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Strategy? Yankees have Dellin Betances and the Red Sox don't

8/5/2015

NEW YORK -- Joe Girardi did something a little odd during the seventh inning Tuesday. With the New York Yankees up a run against the Boston Red Sox, Justin Wilson faced Jackie Bradley Jr., a .109 hitter.

Lefty on lefty, Wilson got up 1-2 on Bradley. During the at-bat, Rusney Castillo, the potential tying run, stole second. So Girardi lifted Wilson, who had held lefties to a .231 average this year, for Dellin Betances with the count 1-2.

Why did the Yankees' manager do it?

"Strategy," Girardi said.

What was the strategy?

"I'm not telling you," Girardi said. "You can write what you want. I'm not saying anything."

Do you think that can impact Wilson's confidence, you know, given Bradley's a .109 hitter and all?

"It is a strategy thing," Girardi said. "You can surmise what you want. Willie has been my seventh-inning guy and he has been great all year."

Betances ended up walking Bradley, but struck out All-Star Brock Holt to end the inning. The strategy that Girardi was hiding like it was some sort of state secret is: When in doubt, turn to Betances.

It is not a bad move. The Yankees are way better than the Red Sox this season for a lot of reasons, but one big one is Betances.

Betances is a two-time All-Star and the danger is overusing him, as he has pitched 55 innings, which is the second most of any reliever in baseball. So the strategy is all fine and dandy, as long as Betances stays healthy.

Wilson, for his part, played the role of good soldier.

"He wanted to go to Dellin and it worked out," Wilson said. "You never want to come out of a game, but Joe felt it was the best move at the time. It was a good team win."

There is no major issue here, even though Girardi oddly, though unsurprisingly, wouldn't just say he brought in Betances because he wanted a strikeout in that situation. In the long run, especially after the nine-run bottom half of the inning against the Red Sox's pen, it didn't have much impact on the 13-3 final.

The Yankees and the Red Sox continue to go in opposite directions. The only concern for the Yankees was Brian McCann felt a little pull in his left knee, though he played all nine innings. He said he hopes to play on Wednesday, but it will depend on how he feels when he wakes up.

Besides McCann, everything continues to go well for the Yankees. Masahiro Tanaka was solid. The offense exploded again and now has scored an incredible 90 runs in its past 10 games.

And the Yankees have Betances and Andrew Miller. Once the Yankees take the lead late, they are pretty unbeatable. When they are leading after six innings, they are 46-2. When they are leading after seven, they are 51-2. When they are leading after eight, they are 57-0.

When it comes to strategy, you don't have to be Miller Huggins or Joe Girardi to figure it out: When in doubt, give the ball to Betances.