27 outs to No. 27

November 4, 2009
Yankee skipper Joe Girardi

Critics have questioned Joe Girardi's managerial moves this postseason, but the Yankees are only one win away from their 27th championship

The biggest debate among sports media outlets for Monday’s World Series Game 5 was whether Yankee skipper Joe Girardi should start the $82.5 million man, AJ Burnett, on short rest, or go with Major League journeyman, Chad Gaudin.

Many critics — most from the biggest Yankee hater, ESPN — criticized Girardi’s decision to pitch Burnett over Gaudin, and from the outcome of Game 5, it may seem as if Girardi made the wrong decision. I disagree.

Gaudin had not pitched a meaningful inning in 30 days, and what most critics forgot is that, he’s Chad Gaudin. A journeyman with a plus 5 ERA in the National League, where left-handed hitters bat a robust .400 against him. Last time I checked, the Phillies biggest bats are left-handed.

Did anyone want Ryan Howard to regain his power stroke off a scrub like Gaudin? I sure as hell didn’t, and I’d bet my house that would have been the case. Howard would have devoured Gaudin like a fat kid staring at a red velvet cake after Ramadan.

Granted, Burnett got lit like a jack-o-lantern on Halloween, but did anyone think Gaudin would have faired any better? OK, I know what you’re thinking “The Yanks were 6-0 in his starts this year!” While that’s true, Gaudin started those game against primarily right-handed laden lineups, and by starting him in Game 5, Girardi would, without saying, acquiesced the game.

And that’s not how you coach, whether it be in Little League or the World Series. As my favorite Jets coach once said, “HELLO! You play to win the game!”

My point exactly.

Girardi went for the knockout punch. I can’t blame him for that. Unfortunately, Burnett whiffed on the haymaker and fell hopelessly through the ropes. But the Yanks have two games to win one for No. 27, and who better to have on the mound than Andy Pettite.

Cry all you want about Andy pitching on three days rest. Pettite is a big-game pitcher and owns a  3-1 record with a sub 3 ERA in five playoff starts on short rest. His worst outing on short rest, Game 6 of the 2001 WS against the Arizona Diamondbacks, was when he was notoriously tipping his pitches.

And does anyone think Pedro will throw another gem like he did in Game 2?  I don’t.

The Yankees are fierce against pitchers they’ve seen more than once, let alone twice in six days. I just don’t see Pedro navigating through the gauntlet that is the Yankee lineup…again.

With Jeter, Damon, ARod and Posada all hitting on all cylinders, I just don’t see him letting up less than four runs. The Yanks couldn’t buy a hit against Game 1 starter Cliff Lee, but the second time around, the Yanks dropped five runs on the “unhittable” Lee. And Lee won the Cy Young last year. So what would make you think that they couldn’t get to Pedro?

Pedro will pitch his first game of the post season on five days rest. His other two starts were on more than 8 days rest each. As the old adage goes, “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.” Pedro isn’t fooling anyone tonight.

In the words of Curtis Jackson — 50 Cent to all you hip-hop novices — tonight, the Yankees will be “poppin’ them thangs.” Dom Perignon for everyone. Let’s fuckin’ go.


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