Sorry to sound like a broken record, but the Yankees are making it difficult to keep ignoring the negative aspects of their play this season.
On Monday afternoon we discussed the way the Yankees have overcome all manners of negativity to post a strong record over the first month of the season. Monday night found them pushing that habit to the extreme in a 5-3 win over the Tigers.
They left 11 runners on base during the game and went just 2-for-14 with runners in scoring position, but our focus at this hour isn't on the offense. After all, Derek Jeter actually had two hits -- one went all the way to the outfield! -- and Jorge Posada doubled home a pair of runs in the early going so not all of the news was bad on that front.
Instead we'll focus on the fact that their manager was hellbent on snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. Foreheads across Yankeeland are red and sore thanks to three stunningly poor decisions by Joe Girardi.
The first came with a runner on second and one out in the third inning. Miguel Cabrera was coming to the plate to face Bartolo Colon and he was bringing the one and only bat in the Tiger lineup that actually scares anyone above the Little League level.
In the most defensible of the three moves, Girardi chose to have Colon pitch to Cabrera and Miggy promptly singled home a run. There was no reason to risk a two-run homer there and no reason to believe that Colon, who was very good again in what's turning into the heartwarming comeback story of the year, couldn't have gotten Brennan Boesch and Ryan Raburn (0-for-8 on the evening) and ended the inning unscathed.
That wasn't nearly as bad as Girardi's choice to have Brett Gardner bunt after Russell Martin walked to lead off the eighth. Facing a reliever who just walked a batter, Girardi thought it was a good idea to have Gardner, who reached base in each of his first three plate appearances, bunt to set the table for Eduardo Nunez and Jeter.
The old axiom says that when you play for one run, you usually wind up with none. That's how things played out this time and the Yankees blew a scoring chance simply so Girardi could follow a book that only he is reading.
Then, in the ninth, Curtis Granderson walked to lead off against Jose Valverde and promptly got thrown out stealing second. It was another asinine moment as the heart of the order was coming up against a pitcher known for extreme wildness.
Sure enough, Mark Teixeira walked on four pitches in the at-bat that saw Granderson get gunned down. Alex Rodriguez moved him over to second on an infield single, Nick Swisher singled home the winning run and the Yankees added an insurance marker when a Valverde pitch got past the catcher.
Things worked out once again for the Yankees, but it really wasn't for a lack of trying. Girardi's decision to bail out bad Tigers pitchers and dance around a lineup that's as potent as any in the game was baffling.
It was all the stranger because he managed the Cabrera situation by basically saying we're just going to go out on the field and beat you straight up. He should have followed his own lead in the late innings and helped his team win instead of trying to make sure they gave a game away.