CLEVELAND — Joe Girardi said it was the lowest point in his professional baseball career.
After his managerial blunders in Game 2 of the AL Division Series, Girardi was as down as he’s ever been. The Yankees faced elimination and Girardi had to face his players after not asking for a replay review of Lonnie Chisenhall’s tainted hit-by-pitch in Cleveland’s 9-8, 13-inning victory.
“I told them I screwed up,” Girardi said after the Yankees came back from 2-0 down to win the ALDS with a 5-2 victory over the Indians at Progressive Field on Wednesday night. “Plain and simple.”
Girardi, who has shown more emotion in the past week than at any point in his 10 years as Yankees manager, said: “I was about as low as I could be as a baseball player or baseball coach or whatever I was. I mean, it happened on Friday. I’ve been carrying this burden for five or six days. It’s hard. If we lose on Sunday, it really hurts. If we lose on Monday, it really, really hurts. If we would have lost (Wednesday), it probably would have hurt even worse.”
The Yankees didn’t lose on any of those days. On Friday, they will begin the ALCS against the Astros in Houston.
Girardi said he met with his players before Game 3. He found out that they had his back.
“Todd Frazier was the first guy that said something,” Girardi said. “ ‘Let’s go.’ And that did stick out in my mind. I’ll never forget that . . . For me, what those guys did for me. I’ll never forget it.”
Said Frazier: “This one’s for Joe, I’ll be honest with you. He took a lot of criticism in this series. I told him, ‘We got your back, 100 percent.’ He came out here with his head up and his chest out.”
General manager Brian Cashman — who along with Girardi does not have a contract for next season — said Girardi apologized to him after Game 2.
“He grabbed me when I walked in the door and he just said, ‘Hey, man, sorry,’ “ Cashman said. “I just said, ‘Hey, we just have to keep battling.’ Stuff happens, you get back up and you push forward. We have another game coming up, that’s all you do . . . Obviously you always want the games won, not lost. A series won, not lost. You’d rather the storylines that are being written are about the success, not somebody else’s failure. Thankfully, this entire franchise was able to rise above and push through and find a way to beat an amazing Cleveland team and change that storyline.”