To use the oft-quoted opening lines from Charles Dickens’s A Tale of Two Cities, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” Greene’s age of wisdom came with his five and two thirds innings of one-run baseball through his first twenty-two batters faced, and he looked pretty foolish as he made three errors in the field en route to a four-run performance. In short, there was a lot of good and a lot of bad in Greene’s Yankee Stadium debut.
Perhaps among the worst was his elevated pitch count in only his third major league start. The twenty-five-year-old rookie’s 113 pitch mark was his highest among his three starts, eclipsing that of his previous outing by six. Girardi’s decision to leave his young budding pitcher in for two more batters after a eight-pitch at bat with Texas right fielder Jake Smolinski that resulted in a two-out single up the middle. Girardi was evidently trying to wait until lefty-hitting Rougned Odor’s turn in the lineup to use lefty specialist Matt Thornton, the sole pitcher warming up in the Yankee bullpen at the time. Girardi had good reason to use Thornton when he did, even if Odor did end up singling to left field. The Rangers’ rookie second baseman had hit .188 with a lowly .514 OPS against left handed pitching up to that point.
Girardi was left in a tough spot after the Smolinski’s single. Greene’s arm isn’t under too much risk from the additional workload due to the nine days of rest he received between starts. However, Greene was beginning to look tired after 105 pitches, with somewhat reduced command. Next up in the lineup after Smolinski was left handed hitter Jim Adduci, a journeyman who’s only had one plate appearance against a lefty this season, which resulted in a strikeout. Had Girardi called in Thornton at that moment, Rangers manager Ron Washington most likely would have pinch hit a righty like Dan Robertson, who’s hit lefties to the tune of .368 this season. Girardi decided to take his chances with a Greene-Adduci matchup, which ended up in a walk. The top of the sixth proved to be the deciding inning in the game, as the Rangers scored three runs after Smolinski’s hit.
Either Girardi neglected to have a right handed pitcher warm up alongside Thornton during Smolinski’s at bat or he decided to ride with Greene a little longer to try to instill some more confidence in the rookie. Joe has had a tendency in recent years to leave his starters in just a tad too long. As measured by Baseball Info Solutions’s “Slow Hook” statistic, which tracks how many extra pitches and runs managers keep starters in for, Girardi’s penchant for leaving struggling starters on the mound jumped significantly after 2011, from a career average of just under forty to over fifty in the last two years.