"We're always aware of the numbers. I know (Alex Rodriguez) has been good against Matty (Guerrier). Sometimes you can't do anything about the numbers. We're going to go with our best pitcher at the time."
Really, once Derek Jeter's hit caromed off Scott Baker's leg and into short right field — giving new meaning to the term "leg double" — there were no real good choices for Gardenhire.
We know what he did in the seventh inning Friday with a 4-3 lead and Yankees on second and third, no outs.
1) He brought in Brian Duensing, lefty, who got Brett Gardner to pop up to short left. One down.
2) He had Duensing walk Mark Teixeira intentionally to load the bases.
3) He brought in Guerrier to face Rodriguez — who hit the second pitch over the left field fence.
Now, lets talk about those numbers. The ones getting the most attention in these second-guess post-mortems are these: Rodriguez was 4-for-6 lifetime against Guerrier — with three homers.
Now he's 5-for-7 with four homers against Guerrier.
Some other numbers: Teixeira is 1-for-5 in his career against Duensing. And Robinson Cano, the missing piece of this equation — the man hitting behind Rodriguez — entered the game 1-for-5 against Guerrier, 1-for-4 against Duensing.
I don't blame Gardenhire for not wanting to pitch to both Teixeira and A-Rod in such an obvious game situation. I understand his faith in Guerrier, and recognize that four homers in seven at-bats isn't something easily done in batting practice. Gardenhire played for the double play, and he got burned.
But still, I think the smarter move was to have Duensing pitch to Teixeira, walk Rodriguez, and face Cano. Of course, that requires getting two of the Yankees 3-4-5 men out rather than one — assuming they could get the DP on Rodriguez.
Granted: You can't have Duensing face Rodriguez with the game on the line.
You can't have Guerrier face him either.