Joe Girardi joined a long list of managers’ postseason blunders when he failed to ask for a replay in Game 2 of the AL Division Series.
Girardi’s decision not to challenge a call that Lonnie Chisenhall was hit by a pitch from Chad Green started a chain of events that wiped out an 8-3 lead in the sixth inning. The Yankees lost, 9-8, as the Indians pushed across a run in the 13th.
After first giving questionable reasons for not requesting a replay, Girardi fessed up Saturday, admitting he “screwed up.’’
On Sunday night, Girardi still appeared to be showing the strain of the last few days as he briefly answered questions before Game 3 at Yankee Stadium. In the past, Girardi might have been put on notice or be taken to task in a missive by George Steinbrenner. No such actions occur under his son, managing partner Hal Steinbrenner.
Girardi shot to No. 1 on the mythical list of postseason managerial missteps. He is the newest member of a notorious group.
A look at some of the more memorable ones:
John McNamara, Red Sox, 1986
Game 6 of the World Series swung to the Mets because McNamara let wobbly-legged Bill Buckner remain in the game at first base instead of replacing him with Dave Stapleton. Mookie Wilson hit one between Buckner’s legs, the Mets went on to win Game 6 and the Series.
McNamara had inserted Dave Stapleton as a late-inning replacement for Buckner in Games 1, 2 and 5. McNamara never second-guessed himself, telling Newsday in 2015: “Right now I’d do the same thing.’’ But, he added, “For it to be that close and see it get away, it’s something I’ll never forget. In this game it’s never over until the final out, and that proved it.”
Grady Little, Red Sox, 2003
It was Game 7 of the ALCS at Yankee Stadium, and the Red Sox led 5-2 in the eighth inning with Pedro Martinez on the mound. But the slightly built Martinez was up to 120 pitches and showing signs of fatigue. Little left him in, the Yankees scored three runs to tie the score, then won it in the 11th on Aaron Boone’s home run against Tim Wakefield.
Little did not have his contract renewed.
“Look, my life is about that moment,” Little told Sports Illustrated in 2013. “My life is about people judging me on one game when I managed about three thousand. Shoot, I made a decision. The results were bad that day. But I made those same decisions to get us there.”
Buck Showalter, Orioles, 2016
In the 2016 AL wild-card game against Toronto, the Blue Jays won on Edwin Encarnacion’s three-run walk-off homer off Ubaldo Jimenez in the 11th inning. Showalter never used ace reliever Zach Britton, who had a major league-leading 0.54 ERA.
“Britton could have pitched in the fifth inning in Toronto,” Showalter told Newsday in spring training. “He could have pitched in the sixth, the seventh, the eighth, the ninth, the 10th, the 11th. There’s a lot of factors there. But you’re careful about saying things that reflect some things that you just don’t talk about. And I’m not going to. We’ve moved on.”
And he hasn’t addressed the matter since.
Honorable mention to former Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez, who in Game 4 of the 2013 NLDS did not use top reliever Craig Kimbrel.
Terry Collins, Mets, 2015
It happened in Game 5 of 2015 World Series against the Royals. Not so much a blunder, more a bad decision based on an individual rather than the team. Collins had a soft spot for Matt Harvey, who was supposed to be done after eight scoreless innings but convinced Collins to let him go out for the ninth. Lorenzo Cain walked and Eric Hosmer doubled. Both would score to tie it, and the Royals won, 7-2, in 12 innings to capture the Series.
In a 2012 decision he would regret throughout his tenure with the Mets, Collins allowed Johan Santana to throw 134 pitches to complete the franchise’s first no-hitter. Cause and effect never were proven, but Santana was never the same.
Dusty Baker, Giants, 2002
Baker has had many postseason mishaps. His most significant came as manager of the Giants in Game 6 against the Angels. The Giants were one victory away from winning the Series and starter Russ Ortiz had a 5-0 lead with one out in the bottom of the seventh. Baker took him out, the Giants’ bullpen failed and the Angels won, 6-5, forcing a seventh game, which the Angels won.