Great moments in small ball: Joe Girardi

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It’s not my intent to mercilessly rip Joe Girardi here. I think he does a good job overall, especially when you realize how many critics he has and how much scrutiny he’s under. But that doesn’t mean that we can’t find, oh, I dunno, teachable moments in his managerial decisions.

Down by two in the ninth inning, A’s closer Andrew Bailey gave up a homer to Jorge Posada.  It’s written on ancient scrolls that if you give up a homer to Jorge Posada, you don’t have your best stuff.  Russell Martin and Brett Gardner then reached, putting runners on first and second, the Yankees down by two. Derek Jeter then comes up. The same Derek Jeter who has been hot of late and who had reached base four times in this game alone already.  This is a recipe for a big honking inning.

Except Joe Girardi had him lay down a bunt. And the Yankees only scored one more time, leaving the bases juiced in their one-run loss. If only they had one more out to give.  In fact, let’s go to Pinstriped Bible’s Steven Goldman who can tell us exactly what the odds were of scoring two runs if the Yankees had that one more out to give:

[T]eams that have put runners on first and second with no outs have scored an average of 1.4 runs … Teams that have runners on second and third with one out see their expected runs go down to 1.3 … I leave it to you whether eliminating the double play was worth trading that fraction of a run as well as the possibility of having three chances to score those two runs instead of two.

Joe Girardi gets mocked by writers for using his famous binder which sets forth this strategy and that strategy for him.  In this case, however, he should be mocked for not using his binder. Or at least for having a binder that didn’t have all of the information he needed in that situation to make the right decision.

Jackie Bradley, Jr.’s grand slam keys 8-2 Red Sox win over Astros in ALCS Game 3

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The Red Sox plated five runs in the top of the eighth inning to put Game 3 of the ALCS out of the reach, taking an 8-2 victory over the Astros on Tuesday night in Houston. Four of those eighth-inning runs came on a grand slam to right field by Jackie Bradley, Jr. off of reliever Roberto Osuna, turning their two-run deficit into a back-breaking six-run deficit.

Both teams traded blows in the first inning, with the Red Sox plating two runs on a J.D. Martinez double and a Xander Bogaerts ground out against starter Dallas Keuchel. The Astros got a run back in the bottom half against starter Nathan Eovaldi when Marwin González brought home Jose Altuvé with a single.

Keuchel settled down from there. He ultimately gave up the two runs on four hits with a pair of walks and no strikeouts across five innings. Eovaldi wouldn’t give up another run until the fifth, when Alex Bregman doubled home Altuve. Eovaldi yielded the two runs on six hits with two walks and four strikeouts in six innings.

Steve Pearce, added to the lineup because of the left-handed Keuchel, smashed a solo home run down the left field line in the sixth against right-handed reliever Joe Smith, breaking the 2-2 tie. Two innings later, all hell broke loose against Osuna. Osuna got Martinez to fly out for the first out, allowed a single to Bogaerts, then got the second out when Pearce gorunded out to third base. Rafael Devers kept the inning alive with a single. Osuna loaded the bases by hitting Brock Holt with an 89 MPH slider, then forced in a run when he hit Mitch Moreland with a 96 MPH fastball. Bradley came up and worked a 1-1 count before depositing a 94 MPH fastball into the right field seats to drastically create space between the Red Sox and Astros.

In the bottom of the eighth, with a healthy five-run cushion, Matt Barnes and Joe Kelly combined to keep the Astros off the board. Eduardo Rodríguez got the ball to start the ninth with a pair of lefties slated to bat. Tyler White pinch-hit for Brian McCann but struck out. Evan Gattis then pinch-hit for Tony Kemp and grounded out. Rodríguez cleaned out the inning by striking out George Springer, ending the game in an 8-2 victory for the Red Sox.

The Red Sox will take their 2-1 series lead into Houston on Wednesday night. Rick Porcello will oppose Charlie Morton for an 8:39 PM ET start. A Red Sox win tomorrow would bring them one win away from returning to the World Series for the first time since 2013 and it would leave the defending champion Astros one loss away from elimination.