“This one’s for Joe,” Yankees third baseman Todd Frazier said in support of manager Joe Girardi as the Yankees celebrated their epic ALDS comeback after being behind the Cleveland Indians 2 games to none to start the series.
“He got a lot of criticism after that second game,” elaborated Frazier, “we talked a lot, me and him, and I couldn’t be happier for him.”
Girardi came under fire after the Yankees loss in Game 2 of the series due to a failure to challenge a call which ruled that Indians outfielder Lonnie Chisenhall was hit by a pitch with two outs in the bottom of the sixth inning. With Chisenhall on first, Cleveland shortstop Francisco Lindor smacked a grand slam, cutting the Yankees 5 run lead to 1. Replays of the Chisenhall at-bat showed the ball hit the knob of the bat, which would have resulted in an inning-ending strikeout.
Girardi’s said he made the decision not to challenge the call because his replay personnel did not have enough time to make a solid conclusion as to whether or not Chisenhall was actually hit by the pitch. With fans furious about the no-call, Girardi was welcomed back by Yankee Stadium for Game 3 with a chorus of boos.
Winning heals all wounds, however, with the Yankees rallying to win 3 straight victories to make their way to the ALCS, where they’ll challenge the Houston Astros for the American League spot in the 2017 World Series. The Yankees were a huge underdog to win the series, as the Indians finished the season with a 102-60 record (second-best in the Majors), which included an absurd 22-game win streak toward the end of the year, the best since the Giants won 26 straight games in 1916.
After Wednesday’s game, Girardi said,
The difference between [Game 2] and today is about as big as you can get. I don’t know at any point in my career that I felt worse than I did on Friday. As I expressed many times, it’s the hurt for the other people that is so hard for me. So the emotions, I mean, these guys had my back and they fought and fought. And again, they beat a really, really good team.
Girardi spoke to the team after Game 2 about his no-call, taking responsibility and saying that he, “screwed up. Plain and simple.”
“All he told us was, ‘Hey, let’s play one game at a time right now, and that’s all we can control right now. Whatever happened in the past happened in the past,'” said Yankees shortstop Didi Gregorius, who had 2 homeruns in Game 5. “We, as a team, we always have each other’s back.”
Girardi’s contract is up after this season, and his no-call in Game 2 had many pushing for the Yankees front office to dump him. However, with Girardi leading the team to a magnificent comeback and a chance for the American League crown, the feelings around the fanbase have changed dramatically.
Will this be enough to keep Girardi on the team? Or will he need more success this postseason? With a tough matchup ahead with a fantastic Houston Astros team, those questions are still way up in the air.