Daily Archives: May 9, 2013
Nothing much has been normal for the Yankees this year and yesterday in Colorado epitomized their whole season to date. It was so crazy that Joe Girardi batting David Phelps eighth was not the strangest thing that happened. After Chris Nelson got pinched hit for in the top of the ninth, Girardi had nobody else to turn to play third base other than Vernon Wells. It was the first time in his 15 major league seasons that he had played even an inning at third base.
“I got hit in the mouth at second base when I was 12 and immediately moved to the outfield,” Wells told Wally Matthews. “So you can imagine how it felt when, in the ninth inning, Wells looked at the Yankees’ dugout and saw infield coach Mick Kelleher waving him closer to the hitter. “I was like, ‘What? I’ve got to play in? I’m [playing in] already!”‘ he said. “It was definitely an eye-opening experience for me, that’s for sure.”
Wells was a huge part of the reason that the Yankees were even in the game to begin with. He already had three hits, including a two-run home run that had accounted for their only runs through eight innings and an infield single that started the Yankees’ rally in the ninth. However, Wells’ fun had only just started. The Yankees took the lead in the ninth inning with one of the softest rallies you will ever see.
Wells opened the inning with an infield single and stole second in front of Lyle Overbay walking. Ichiro Suzuki bunted the runners over and Jayson Nix was intentionally walked after a 3-0 count to load the bases. This is when things got interesting. With no backup infielders available, Girardi pinch hit Travis Hafner for Chris Nelson because the Yankees needed to take the lead right there. Hafner struck out, but Brennan Boesch got the run home on an infield single to give the Yankees a 3-2 when Nolan Arenado’s throw after a great diving effort was just a little late.
However, the Yankees still had three outs to get, and Wells had to go out to third base to replace Nelson. You knew that the baseball Gods were not going to let Wells off the hook without having to field a ball. Carlos Gonzalez hit a one-hopper that Wells had to take two steps to his left to get to. He fielded it and fired a perfect strike to Overbay at first. Wells looked like a natural on that play and you would have never realized that he had never played an inning of third base in his life.
The trade to acquire Wells was ridiculed and laughed at by just about everybody. However, Wells has been a consummate team player for the Yankees and one of the most productive players in the lineup. Even though Wells has struggled so far in May, (.240/.240/.360/.600) he proved yesterday that he does not plan on returning to playing like he did in Los Angeles any time soon.
That game last night epitomized what the 2013 Yankees have been. You really have no idea how they do it, yet they just keep on winning. With a lineup filled of mostly formerly washed up players and “AAAA” players, the Yankees find themselves at 19-13 and only one game behind the Orioles and Red Sox for first place in the AL East. It has been done with mostly guts and guile, things you do not normally associate with a team with about a $230 million payroll. With Curtis Granderson and Kevin Youkilis possible coming back next week, things can start to get even more fun soon.