The ninth inning tonight turned out to be far more interesting than it should have but Joe Girardi gave a pretty unassailable reason for pulling CC Sabathia after 8 2/3 innings, turning it over to David Robertson.
"It seemed like the time before [Sabathia's previous start], I thought we went too many pitches and he might have felt a little fatigued," Girardi said. "It's a tough call but that's what I get paid to do."
The primary obstacle Girardi saw was the muggy night, 94 degrees at first pitch with a heat index of 106.
“With the heat, we don’t want to wear this big guy down,” Girardi said. “He’s important to us down the stretch.”
Myself, most of the media and most fans would have left Sabathia in. After all, his season-high in pitches is 123 and when Girardi pulled him, the lefty was at 110. Still, I say his reasoning was unassailable because when a manager basically says, "my judgment was I might hurt the player," it's kind of hard to scream about overmanaging.
Besides, it worked.
"That’s a tough decision for him to make,” Sabathia said. "I felt like I could have finished but I have a lot of confidence in the guys in the bullpen…That’s Joe’s job is to judge when I’m done and I think he did a good job.”
With Mariano Rivera unavailable because he had pitched the previous two games [Girardi said had Rivera been available he likely would have started the ninth with him], the closing duties fell to Robertson. The righthander has faced his share of dicey situations this season in the sixth, seventh and eighth innings, but said pitching the ninth – a rare experience for any Yankee reliever when the team has the lead – felt unique.
“Yeah, it’s a little different,” Robertson said with a weary smile. “Because when I come set, I’m looking at the tying run on third base and knowing that we don’t get another chance to hit if I give up a hit. So there’s a little more pressure.”
Some other notes:
*** Sabathia now has a 60-22 record with a 2.95 ERA in 103 career starts in games from Aug. 1 until the end of the regular season.
*** The Yankees are 24-2 in games that Curtis Granderson drives in a run, according to Elias.
*** Austin Kearns is 6-for-19 (.316) since joining the Yankees.
And with that, back tomorrow night as Dustin Moseley (2-1, 3.86) takes on Kyle Davies (5-7, 5.21).