Before the Yankees lost in devastating fashion to the Cleveland Indians in Game 2 of the ALDS at Progressive Field, manager Joe Girardi had wittingly placed himself in between a rock and a hard place.
In the bottom of the sixth inning, with New York ahead 8-3, home plate umpire Dan Iassogna signaled that a Chad Green fastball grazed pinch-hitter Lonnie Chisenhall’s hands, resulting in a hit-by-pitch to load the bases up for Francisco Lindor, who ultimately hit a grand slam two pitches later to trim the Indians’ deficit to one.
But prior to Lindor’s at-bat, Girardi was trapped like a deer in headlights. In the dugout, Girardi waited for replay coordinator Brett Weber’s judgement on whether to challenge the play. But when the Yankees’ allotted 30 seconds had expired, Weber said — according to Girardi — that he had found no conclusive evidence to get the call overturned. Thus, Girardi told Iassogna to resume play, and the ensuing at-bat altered all momentum.
Following the game, which ended in a 9-8 loss for the Yankees in 13 innings, Girardi offered an explanation on why he didn’t roll the dice with a challenge. His reasoning can be found in the video below, courtesy of the YES Network.
While the dust is in the midst of settling, Girardi’s reasoning remains erroneous and confounding. Regardless of whether the ball hit the knob of the bat or not (slow-motion replay suggests the ball did not hit Chisenhall), there was no way to justify his reluctance to roll the dice. Several blunders and gaffes allowed the Indians to rally and escape Cleveland with a commanding 2-0 lead in the series, but Girardi’s oversight in the sixth will be discussed throughout the offseason.
Randy Miller, who covers the Yankees for NJ.com, discussed the incident with six players, and their responses are below:
Sanchez was the closest to Chisenhall on the controversial hit by pitch.
“I definitely heard something,” Sanchez said.
What he probably heard was Green’s pitch hitting the knob of Chisenhall’s bat because that’s what replays showed did happen.
“I wasn’t sure if it hit the bat,” Sanchez said. “I didn’t think it hit (Chisenhall) because he never reacted to that. He stayed still there.”
Asked if he’s surprised Girardi didn’t challenge the call, Sanchez said, “I wasn’t surprised. We have a replay team that takes care of stuff like that. They decided not to challenge. But like I said, I felt like I heard something.”
And then Sanchez made sure his dugout knew.
“I just screamed foul,” he said.
The Yankees ignored him.
“Things like this happen in a game,” he said. “You’ve got to put that behind you and focus on the upcoming game.”
Chad Green was the pitcher who was charged with a hit by pitch that should have been an inning-ending strikeout.
“At the time, I didn’t really know (if Chisenhall was hit),” Green said. “Looking at the replay, I guess it could have. But that’s their call in the replay room. They’ve been pretty good all year.”
Green did hear Sanchez yell ‘foul” to indicate the pitch hit Chisenhall’s bat.
Green haard the same thing from the mound.
“Yeah,” he said. “(And) you always think there’s a chance it just hit the knob. I heard something, but I’m not sure really what it was. I think just trusting them right there that they’ll make the best call.”
Green was hoping the Yankees challenged the call.
“I think it had a chance (to be overturned),” he said.
Right fielder Aaron Judge was clueless about Chisenhall not being hit until he was asked about it during his post-game interview.
“That’s news to me,” he said. “So it hit his bat?”
Yeah … oh!
Chase Headley stood up for Girardi during his post-game interview.
“I think when you get word that the call was right, why would you challenge it?” he said. “That’s how I look at it. I think our guy (Brett Weber) does as good as anybody in the league and I think Joe trusts him. Unfortunately, it just happened at a really bad time.
“But I’m not going to say I was surprised (Girardi) didn’t challenge it. If you tell me that the call was right, I’m going to tell you that the call is right.
“Obviously now when you look back at it, it’s easy to say, ‘Hey, we had two challenges, we should have done something.’ That’s not easy when you have 30 seconds to make a decision.”
What was it like sitting in the dugout during the 30 seconds Girardi was contemplating a challenge?
“I really don’t know what the discussion was,” he said. “Watching initially, when there wasn’t a reaction from the hitter, I was yelling, ‘It didn’t hit him.’ Obviously when you look at the replay …
“(Girardi’s) initial views that he had were that it hit him. It wasn’t until you get the big picture of the super slo-mo that you’re able to see any different. There wasn’t much discussion initially because you thought it was the right call and then slowly it trickled down that it didn’t hit him. Obviously now everybody is like, we should have done something different, but in the heat of the moment obviously those types of things can happen.”
“I didn’t hear for sure until the inning was over. I kind of looked over (to Girardi) when it was all going on. Then the phone rang again. He picked up the phone. It looked like there was a little bit of a discussion. I was a little bit curious, but I didn’t have word until after the inning was over that it actually did happen. I don’t even think some of the guys knew … the guys that were on the field, even after they came in.”
Here’s pitcher CC Sabathia’s take:
“I was in (the clubhouse) at that point. It’s one of those things where it’s tough to see and it just worked out for them. That kind of turned the game. It’s just one of those things that we missed.”
Third baseman Todd Frazier didn’t know about the umpire mistake/non-challenge until after the Yankees’ lost in 13 innings.
“I just found out while I was eating,” he said. “It stinks. It’s one of those things where maybe we didn’t get the video on time. I don’t know exactly what happened.
“But at the same time, with the umpire — you’ve got to see that, too. And (Sanchez) caught the ball. It’s one of those things where you see the reaction of a player and sometimes you have to go off that because as an umpire you can’t really tell.
“So I guess he went with his decision and it wasn’t the right one. It didn’t go in our favor. So that’s kind of tough to swallow.”
If you want to connect with Tom Hanslin, email him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @tomhanslin.