Prior to Game 2, Girardi stated that he was more than willing to utilize any of the Yankees relievers three days in a row. This ostensibly meant that Rivera, Robertson, and Soriano were available for Game 2 and Game 3, with Robertson and Soriano being available for Game 4, as well. Most would suggest that a three-run deficit is far from insurmountable - particularly at home, against a flyball pitcher with a propensity for wildness (4.2 BB/9). While few in their right mind would suggest that a rally was a guarantee, I highly doubt that many would essentially cut and run. Cue Girardi
"We still have two more games in a row," Girardi said. "And we’re down three. If we got it down to two, we were going to maek a change. Being down there runs and you know what Valverde has done all year long, we decided to go to Ayala."
Luis Ayala performed ably throughout the regular season - his peripherals suggested a league-average pitcher, but he was able to slay the luck dragon and maintain a nice looking 2.09 ERA. With a rested Robertson and Soriano, however, it seems curious to hand the ball over to a pitcher twenty-four hours removed from allowing two inherited runners to score and three days removed from handing the Rays the Wild Card.
I will not call this move indefensible, as Valverde has been very good this season. It would also be false to suggest that this move truly hurt the Yankees, as even an illogical use of the predetermined outcome has them losing the game 4-3 (assuming Robertson or Soriano would have escaped the inning unscathed). That being said, it is difficult to defend Girardi's logic here, and I never want to see my team's manager all but welcome defeat.Follow me on Twitter - @DomenicLanza