Yankees third base coach blunder and more lead to loss

HOUSTON, TX - OCTOBER 14: Brett Gardner
HOUSTON, TX - OCTOBER 14: Brett Gardner /

Down two games-to-zero to the Astros in the ALCS is the precarious situation the Yankees find themselves in. Once again, they’ll turn to CC Sabathia to get back in the series.

Through the first two games of the ALCS, the main strength of the Yankees has once again been its pitching staff. As for the biggest disappointment, it’s a tie between a non-existent offense and poor game management.

Though this time, manager Joe Girardi is mostly in the clear. Instead, third base coach Joe Espada gets to wear the cone of shame.

Baseball is a team sport, so it’s no simple task to signal out select individuals that have failed to carry their own weight. But when the issues are this blatant, you have to stop and take notice.

The first two starters for the Astros this series were former Cy Young Winners — Dallas Kuechel and Justin Verlander. But the Yankees made both look like Cy Young, himself.

If the Bombers plan on getting back into the ALCS, beginning on Monday night in the Bronx, they need to stop striking out on bunches.

Aaron Judge who has been hitting out of the No. 2 hole, has now struck out an ungodly 19 times this Postseason while batting .129. His counterpart, Gary Sanchez, hasn’t fared much better, whiffing 15 times, hitting .176. 

As a team, the only player hitting above .300 is Brett Gardner. In total, the Yanks have amassed a total 96 Ks through the playoffs. This needs to stop, and fast.

More from Yankees News

Whether Girardi begins demanding that his players become more patient at the plate, or he actually juggles the lineup and moves Judge and Sanchez down a few spots to alleviate the pressure we see all over their faces, right now, this lineup combination is not working.

As for Verlander, who threw 124 pitches in Game 2, amassing 13 strikeouts — his most Ks in a single game since 2012, he has to be hurting today.

The one solid to take out of his dominating performance, if you’re a Yankee fan, is that Astros manager AJ Hinch obviously doesn’t trust his bullpen.

With Game 3 and 4 starters set to be Charlie Morton and possibly Brad Peacock, the Yankees will need to do all they can to tie up the series before the pitching rotation turns over.

Joe Espada does it again…

I’ve been writing about some of the boneheaded decisions Espada has made as Yankees’ third base coach for over a year and a half now.

From holding up runners when he should wave them home, to Friday’s night horrible decision to signal Gardner to third — Espada continues to fall short at such an important coaching position.

One of the smartest baseball minds I’ve ever known is my father. A former minor league player in the late 60s, my father preached that you never make the first or last out of an inning at third base.

Well, I guess Espada was never taught this lesson.

It was plain to see that Gardner didn’t get a good first step out of the box when he ripped that ball down the right-field line in the top of the third inning. If you watched the game, you could hear Espada clear as day, yelling for Gardner to head to third as he neared second base.

I get that Gardner is one of the faster runners on the team, but the relay from Josh Reddick to Carlos Correa was perfect. And the play unfolded directly in Espada eye-line!

Though Girardi understood Espada’s reasoning behind pushing Gardy to third, he acknowledged to the New York Post that it was indeed the wrong call.

"“I think he’s trying to get [Gardner] to third knowing that Verlander bounces some balls from time to time,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said of Espada. “But, yeah, in hindsight, we probably should have held him up. But it’s a split-second decision on Joe’s part, and … Joe’s a really good third base coach, and it happens.”"

Gardner, being the consummate professional he is, took the blame for getting called out (per Newsday).

"“I can’t be out right there,” Gardner said. “I was mad at myself for just continuing to go and I’m mad at myself for not making my turn around second base like I normally do. My steps were a little bit messed up and it just didn’t feel perfect.”"

Getting tagged out at third base not only ended the inning, but it took the bat out of Judge’s hands with a man in scoring position. Despite the fact, Judge is severely struggling, passing up the chance to put an early run on the board and in-turn damage Verlander’s confidence was something the Yankees never recovered from.

Next: Rumors swirl about Girardi and Cashman

Whether or not you agree with me, there was a number of lost chances for the Yanks to capitalize on in Game 2.

From Girardi pulling Luis Severino in the fifth inning despite the starters claims he was fine after being struck by a line drive, to Aroldis Chapman grooving a fastball in the bottom of the ninth inning and Gary Sanchez ultimately being unable to pick up Didi Gregorius’ throw home that scored the winning run, it was a total team loss.