Did the All-Star Skippers Manage To Rob Their Own Players of All-Star Glory?

↵If you win the All-Star game, you get home field advantage in the World Series, a fact that clearly was not lost on Joe Girardi and Charlie Manuel heading into last night's star-studded contest. The two managers faced off in last year's Fall Classic and, heading into this season, had their teams picked by many pundits to return again in 2010. At the All-Star break, the Yankees seem to be right where people expected them to be – on top of the "toughest division in baseball" – while the oft-injured Phillies are scuffling a bit in third place in the NL East. Nevertheless, to these two managers specifically, winning the All-Star game should matter. ↵

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↵So why the heck was A-Rod still on the bench when the game ended? Per MLB.com: ↵

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↵⇥"We had a couple of situations where I could have gone in, in the eighth and ninth innings," Rodriguez said. "I felt good. I was loose and ready to go. I sat there for about three hours. [Adrian] Beltre had some good chances and that's all that's important." ↵⇥

↵⇥"We were talking about pinch-running [Rodriguez] in a situation," Girardi said. "We also had a little issue with Beltre and we were concerned about his hamstring, so if we get the tying run on, Al was going to pinch-run and then go in [to play third base]." ↵⇥

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↵David Ortiz, who got forced out at second on a sure-fire single to right field in the bottom of the ninth inning, said after the game that he had no clue why he was still in and Rodriguez wasn't, telling reporters, "I don't know, this is the All-Star Game and you never know what can happen." ↵

↵You got that right, Papi. Girardi decided not to have Rodriguez hit for Adrian Beltre, (justly) giving the Red Sox third baseman the late-inning at-bat to try and get the American League back in the game. Girardi did, however, tell reporters that had Beltre – who is hobbled with a hamstring issue – gotten on base as the tying run, he expected to use the rule that allowed a player to come back into the game to replace him. Ty Wigginton would have come in to pinch run for Beltre and Rodriguez would have come in for Papi on second base. Beltre struck out before John Buck's hit to right was negated when Papi got nabbed by Marlon Byrd for the second out. A-Rod was stuck in the dugout with nowhere to go. ↵

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↵The decision makes little sense, really. If Girardi was going to pinch-run for Papi, why wait? Why not just put A-Rod on first once Ortiz got on base? ↵

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↵A-Rod seemed genuinely at peace with Girardi's decision when talking to reporters. Per Tyler Kepner of the New York Times: ↵

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↵⇥"He probably decided it was best, unless he really needed to use me, not to use me,” Rodriguez said of Girardi. “It would have been fun, but maybe next time.” ↵
↵It's a nice bit of perspective from Rodriguez, given the circumstances of the day for the Yankees, following the death of George Steinbrenner. Rather than turn being snubbed into an issue, Rodriguez was a consummate team player. ↵

↵It still doesn't mean that Girardi was right, however. The Yankee skipper managed to hang the All-Star loss on his own pitcher, too. Phil Hughes started the seventh inning and after allowing two men to reach base with just one out, was pulled in favor of White Sox set-up man Matt Thornton. Thornton got one out before surrendering a walk and a bases-clearing double to Brian McCann to give the NL the 3-1 lead. I don't know about you, but I'm pretty sure Hughes could have done that. ↵

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↵Sure, Hughes had given up two hits and there was a lefty, Andre Ethier, on deck, so going to Thornton was playing the percentages. But Ethier had been in the game from the start, so there was little chance he'd get that at-bat even if the matchup dictated. It "counts", but it's still the All-Star game. ↵

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↵While Girardi hung his stud reliever with the loss, Manuel may have stolen a win from his ace. ↵

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↵Roy Halladay came in to pitch the sixth inning but after allowing two singles – neither runner reached second base because of a strike-em-out-throw-em-out double play that preceded the second hit – he was pulled in favor of Nats closer Matt Capps. Capps struck out Ortiz to end the frame, so with McCann's base-clearer coming in the top of the next inning, it was Capps, not Halladay, who got the win. ↵

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↵Halladay had thrown 17 pitches in the inning, and surely Manuel didn't want to leave his own guy out there too long, considering Halladay threw 117 pitches on Saturday in the Phillies' extra-innings win over the Reds. In addition, Ortiz has faced Halladay more than any pitcher in his career, and has a .273 batting average and .845 OPS against him with six home runs in 109 plate appearances. Not huge numbers, but maybe a good spot to get Halladay out of the game. ↵

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↵Still, had he known three runs were coming in the next half-inning, you can be darn sure Cholly would have left his horse out there for the win. Instead, Capps got the NL's first W in nearly 15 years. If the Phillies put together another second half run like the last two seasons, surely Halladay won't mind losing out on an All-Star win if he's on the mound for game one of the World Series. ↵

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↵If the Yankees are there too? Don't blame A-Rod for starting the Series on the road. ↵

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This post originally appeared on the Sporting Blog. For more, see The Sporting Blog Archives.

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