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10/10/09 2:57 AM ET

Chess Match: Deciding about Posada

Before and during Game 2, catcher plays role in strategy

NEW YORK -- The big controversy before Game 2 at Yankee Stadium was Yankees manager Joe Girardi sitting veteran catcher Jorge Posada in lieu of Jose Molina catching A.J. Burnett.

Posada was none too happy about the situation, although the skipper said the backstop would be getting plenty of playing time in the best-of-five American League Division Series. But Girardi decided not even to use him at designated hitter in place of Hideki Matsui in Game 2.

"Matsui has been our DH most of the year and is familiar with that role," Girardi said. "That is not a role that Jorge has done a lot in his career. If there's a left-hander on the mound, maybe you think a little bit differently. But Matsui, I mean, he's been great against left-handers. So it wasn't much of a decision. Because of what Matsui has done in the DH role."

Posada would be in and out of a game that went long into the evening.

Girardi pinch-runs for Posada with Gardner in the 10th
The situation:
Posada singles to center with one out and no one on in the 10th. He replaced Molina in the game as a pinch-hitter with the Yankees trailing, 1-0, going into the bottom of the sixth.

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The decision: Girardi pinch-ran Brett Gardner for Posada, leaving only rookie catcher Francisco Cervelli if the Yanks didn't win the game.

The outcome: Gardner stole second and went to third on an errant pickoff throw. Derek Jeter was walked intentionally. Johnny Damon lined a shot to shortstop Orlando Cabrera, who doubled off Gardner to end the inning after he ranged too far off third.

The analysis: "It's not a tough decision, because we're going for the win. Cervelli has caught in big games for us all year. He was called upon this year when Posada went down. And then Molina went down, and we had him and Kevin Cash, and he played extremely well. He was the one who kind of got us going in Atlanta, too, with the home run. So that is a young man that has a lot of talent, and we feel good about him when we put him out there." -- Girardi

Gardenhire leaves Blackburn to face the music
The situation:
Jeter doubles and Damon walks, putting runners on first and second with one out in the sixth, with Nos. 3 and 4 hitters Mark Teixeira and Alex Rodriguez due up.

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The decision: Twins manager Ron Gardenhire sent pitching coach Rick Anderson to the mound to speak to Nick Blackburn, who was pitching a two-hitter at the time, and Anderson decided to leave the young righty in the game.

The outcome: Teixeira had a monster at-bat against Blackburn, almost hitting a three-run homer that landed foul just right of the right-field foul pole. Teixeira popped out to left on a full-count pitch. But Rodriguez singled home Jeter to tie the game at 1. Gardenhire then lifted Blackburn for left-handed reliever Ron Mahay, who induced the lefty-swinging Matsui to ground out to first.

The analysis: "That inning, you probably saw Posada hit a rocket to left-center field. Jeter hit a rocket to right-center field. That was that 90-plus-pitch game at the end of the year. Blackie's ball was starting to get up. Guys were hitting it pretty hard. So I talked with my pitching coach. We said, 'We have to go to lefty on lefty here and see what happens.'" -- Gardenhire

Girardi stays too long with Hughes
The situation:
After a two-out walk to Carlos Gomez and a single by Brendan Harris in the top of the eighth, runners are on first and third.

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The decision: Girardi sent pitching coach Dave Eiland out to talk to setup man Phil Hughes and left him in the game to pitch to Nick Punto, with Mariano Rivera warming up in the bullpen.

The outcome: Hughes allowed an RBI single to Punto, driving in Gomez to make it 2-1. Girardi then brought in Rivera, who gave up an RBI single to Denard Span, making it 3-1. Rivera then whiffed Orlando Cabrera to end the inning.

The analysis: "Nothing is perfect in this game. You try to make the right decisions. Sometimes they work out, and sometimes they don't." -- Girardi

Barry M. Bloom is a national reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.