One of the hot topics today in Yankeeland is General Joe’s call, yesterday, to have Mo Rivera give Evan Longoria an intentional pass – and whether or not Girardi was dissing Rivera with that call. Via Larry Brooks of the Post -
The shocker yesterday in The Bronx wasn’t so much watching Mariano Rivera walk off the mound with two outs in the ninth after surrendering two of the four runs eventually charged against him in a 9-7 defeat to the Rays.
Rather, it was seeing Joe Girardi walk out to the mound earlier in the inning to instruct his closer to intentionally walk hobbling pinch-hitter Evan Longoria in order to get to B.J. Upton with two outs, a man on third and a run in to give Tampa Bay the lead in what had been a 5-5 game after eight.
“He’s pitched Upton tougher than he’s pitched Longoria during the course of his career,” Girardi said. “That’s why I made the move.”
That walk to the mound and the instruction to intentionally walk Longoria sure seemed like a vote of no confidence from the manager, even to Rivera, who came as close to saying that as possible without actually using the words.
“If it were me, I would have pitched to [Longoria], but I’m not the manager,” said Rivera, who yielded an RBI single to Upton that prompted Girardi to pull him. “[Why?] Because that’s what I do; I don’t go out there to intentionally walk guys.
“I think I have good stuff to get people out, but it’s not my decision.”
Including yesterday’s game, to date, in his career, Mariano Rivera has issued 31 intentional walks. Here’s the list:
Date Opp Batter Score Inn 04/13/96 TEX Mickey Tettleton down T 6 05/25/96 @SEA Paul Sorrento ahead B 8 06/04/96 TOR John Olerud ahead T 7 06/01/97 @BOS Darren Bragg tied B 9 06/01/97 @BOS Mo Vaughn tied B 9 06/15/97 @FLA Gary Sheffield ahead B 9 08/23/97 @SEA Edgar Martinez tied B 9 08/23/97 @SEA Paul Sorrento tied B 9 08/23/97 @SEA Ken Griffey tied B10 08/18/98 @KCR Larry Sutton ahead B 9 04/15/99 BAL Albert Belle down T 9 04/15/99 BAL B.J. Surhoff down T 9 07/10/99 @NYM Mike Piazza ahead B 9 08/23/00 TEX Rafael Palmeiro tied T 9 08/23/00 TEX Ricky Ledee tied T 9 09/03/00 MIN Jacque Jones tied T10 07/14/01 @FLA Andy Fox tied B 8 08/30/01 TOR Carlos Delgado tied T 9 05/04/02 SEA Ichiro Suzuki tied T 9 07/14/02 @CLE Jim Thome ahead B 9 08/06/03 TEX Alex Rodriguez down T 9 04/07/04 @TB Geoff Blum ahead B 9 05/15/04 SEA Edgar Martinez tied T11 07/01/04 BOS Jason Varitek tied T11 04/26/06 TB Jonny Gomes down T10 05/19/06 @NYM Carlos Delgado tied B 9 08/20/06 @BOS Manny Ramirez tied B 9 08/20/06 @BOS Mike Lowell tied B 9 08/24/07 @DET Ivan Rodriguez tied B10 08/24/07 @DET Ryan Raburn tied B10 06/06/09 TB Evan Longoria down B 9
Looking at this list, the games of August 18, 1998 and April 7, 2004 jump out at me.
On August 18, 1998, the Yankees had a 91-30 record and were in first place by 20 games. Yet, that day, in a game where they were ahead, in the 9th inning, Joe Torre had Mariano Rivera walk the “immortal” Larry Sutton intentionally. Was that a diss to Rivera? I mean…really…should the Yankees have been afraid of Sutton wrecking a game in that spot by swinging the bat?
On April 7, 2004, the Yankees season was just four games old – including that game. Yet, that day, in a game where they were ahead, in the 9th inning, Joe Torre had Mariano Rivera walk the “always dangerous” Geoff Blum intentionally. Was that a diss to Rivera? I mean…really…should the Yankees have played the Rays, who were coming off a 63-99 season and who would finish with 91 losses in 2004, like it was the World Series – just four games into the season – fearful that Blum would cost them the contest by swinging the bat?
If we’re not going to get our panties in a bunch over Joe Torre making Mo Rivera issue intentional walks to batters like Larry Sutton and Geoff Blum when there was little on the line and Rivera was in his prime, then why should we be fussing over Joe Girardi asking Mariano to issue a pass to an All-Star like Evan Longoria, in a game that the Yankees were already losing, given the way the Yankees play the Rays now, and that Mo is towards the end of his career? Seems like an excuse to try and create some heat between Girardi and Rivera…when there’s really no need.