Yankees hold off Rockies for 3-2 win

Greene strikes out 12 in Tampa win
A quick review and some thoughts about the Yankees' recent first round picks

The Yankees are undefeated when the pitcher bats eighth this year. Joe Girardi is a genius. They used a ninth inning rally to beat the Rockies by the score of 3-2 on Wednesday night.

(AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
(AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

Boesch Comes Through
It seems silly now, but batting the pitcher eighth actually played a pretty big role in this win. The Yankees and Rockies were knotted at two in the top of the ninth when New York loaded the bases with one out — the rally started with an infield single and a stolen base where the infielder dropped a perfect throw that would have had the runner by a mile — allowing Girardi to go for the kill with his two top pinch-hitters.

First, Travis Hafner came to the plate in place of third baseman Chris Nelson even though Eduardo Nunez is injured and the team doesn’t have a backup infielder at the moment. Hafner has the highest OBP on the team and a walk is as good as a hit in that situation, but he struck out on five pitches to set the stage for Brennan Boesch. Boesch, by the way, was pinch-hitting for the pitcher. Had the pitcher batted ninth, it would have been Austin Romine at the plate and maybe Girardi doesn’t pinch-hit. Who knows.

Anyway, Boesch managed to beat out an infield single to plate the go-ahead run, sliding (flopping?) feet-first into first base to beat third baseman Nolan Arenado’s throw. It was a bang-bang play and Todd Helton tried to sell it by starting towards the dugout, but the umpire ruled safe and the Yankees had the lead. Jayson Nix was thrown out at second base on the plate, so they didn’t get a chance to add to the lead, but they got a run and that was the most important thing.

(Dustin Bradford/Getty)
(Dustin Bradford/Getty)

Phelps’ One Mistake
Hiroki Kuroda made one mistake on Tuesday night, which is exactly what David Phelps did on Wednesday. Helton hit a 3-1 fastball like he knew it was coming in the second inning, driving the pitch out to right for a two-run homer. It was gone off the bat, total no-doubter. Those two runs were the only runs Phelps allowed on the night, as he held the Rockies to just three hits and one walk in his six innings of work. He struck out four despite throwing a first pitch to strike to only seven of 19 hitters faced.

The biggest at-bat of his outing was his last, when Carlos Gonzalez batted with a man on first and two outs in the sixth. It was pretty much the same situation Kuroda got burned on the day before — Josh Rutledge singled with outs to get CarGo to the plate in a tie game — but Phelps used two fastballs and two filthy changeups to retire the former batting champ. First pitch fastball for a whiff, second pitch changeup for a whiff, third pitch inside fastball to straighten him up, fourth pitch changeup for a whiff and the end of the inning. Textbook. Phelps held up his end of the bargain. Nice job.

The Vernon Wells Show
So apparently any time a Yankee slumps, all I have to do to wake them up is write a post. A few hours after saying Wells’ recently slump came at a terrible time for the team, he broke out by going 3-for-4 with a two-run homer in the first and the infield single that started the ninth inning rally. He also stole that base in the ninth, but it looked like a botched hit-and-run — Lyle Overbay never bothered to swing, so maybe someone missed a sign. If that wasn’t enough, Wells took over at third base (!) for Nelson in the bottom half of the inning and made a splendid play on the only ball hit his way. Well done, Vern.

I was hoping Girardi would pinch-hit Hafner for the pitcher when there was a man on third and two outs in the seventh inning, but he opted for the right-handed Ben Francisco against the lefty Josh Outman. Needless to say, it didn’t work. Can’t complain though, Girardi went for the kill two innings later by using Pronk with the bases loaded and one out in the tie game.

The Yankees had six hits total, three by Wells. Boesch (infield single to score the go-ahead run), Nelson (single that turned into a triple thanks to Dexter Fowler’s error), and Brett Gardner (regular old single) had the others. They drew three walks, including an intentional walk to Nix (!) to load the bases in the ninth. You won’t see that very often.

Preston Claiborne will get to tell all his buddies at the yacht club about the way he retired the first nine big league batters he faced. He pitched a perfect seventh, which included his first career strikeout — a four-pitch number against Helton to end the inning. David Robertson hit a batter in an otherwise uneventful eighth — it was his first appearance in a week due to the hamstring issue, and the rust was evident — and Mariano Rivera closed things out in the ninth. Solid work by the boys in the ‘pen.

The Yankees have been shutout three times this year, and each time they rebounded with a win in the next game. Love to see them bounceback like that, though not getting shutout would be preferred.

Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings
MLB.com has the box score and video highlights, FanGraphs some additional stats, and ESPN the updated standings.

Source: FanGraphs

Up Next
The Yankees and Rockies will wrap-up this three game series with a Thursday afternoon matinee. CC Sabathia will get the ball against fellow left-hander Jeff Francis.

Greene strikes out 12 in Tampa win
A quick review and some thoughts about the Yankees' recent first round picks
  • vicki

    aw, the lyle smile at the very last msec.

  • KCSwiss

    I mean 3rd is probably the easiest infield position to play but still quite impressive of Wells to do this.

    • pat

      Easier than first? I don’t think so.

    • Kramerica Industries

      They don’t call it the hot corner for nothing.

    • fin

      Thats just patently not true. Third base is very hard to play, much harder than 2nd and first. Possibly harder than ss. You have alot more time to react to the ball at ss. There is no question that ss is more important and takes a quicker athlete to play it, but I’m not sure its the more difficult position. Saying 3b is the easiest position is crazzy. Stand there and take a rifle shot from that close and you will readjust your opinion.

    • MannyGeee

      Blatantly not true

  • pat

    The legend of Preston Claiborne grows….

    • Winter

      “The Legend of Preston Claiborne”

      Sounds like a biopic about an old stage magician.

    • pat

      Also, its worth noting that the fan that caught Wells HR caught it with his hat. That is all.

  • DInnings

    Wells has done a great job so far. I like his attitude.

    • Mandy Stankiewicz

      Totally! Never playing the position in M or Mi ball. Not a stitch of diva in this guy, dude just goes out there and does what needs to be done.

  • I’mVernonI’mVernon4U

    I’m kicking myself for not watching after the 6th. These damn west coast games! The game thread was definitely fun to follow, although still not sure exactly what happened.

    Brennan Boesch did something good, Wells played 3rd, and Jayson Nix sucked again. That’s all I got, haha.

    • vicki

      shame on you! the game was less than three hours. we’ve had 7pm starts go later.

      over the course of 162 games they all kind of blur together. this one will stand out; it was pretty special.

      • I’mVernonI’mVernon4U

        Sure seemed like a grind-it-out type of win. I figured with the insane amounts of homework and how nerve-wracking those type of games are, I was better off not watching. Was wrong this time :(

  • Frank

    but seriously…Vernon can play third until Youk gets back.

    I’m not kidding.

    • trr

      is it the binder?

  • Bob Buttons

    It was great hustle by Boesch, and bonus points for not doing a head-first slide. Wells continue to amaze people, doing a more-than satisfactory job as replacement Curtis. Plus a Rangers win tonight, great night overall.

  • Bob Buttons

    In honor of Wells’ play at third today.


    • Winter

      Can we start using “The Man with the Midas Catch” to talk about people? Please?

  • Greg C

    I didn’t see the game. Reading the play by play was confusing. Boesch was safe at first, Helton started walking off, then still managed to throw out Nix at 2nd for the 3rd out?

    • Bob Buttons

      There’s a video of it on MLB.com under Boesch’s go-ahead single.

      • Greg C

        Thank you.

    • Winter

      You should check out the video Mr. Buttons mentioned, but Helton started to walk off. When he realized he didn’t get the call, he turned around and saw Nix was too far past 2nd, so he threw down and they got him as he dove back.

      • Greg C

        Thanks. That seemed like the only way it could make sense, but I wasn’t sure.

  • The fax

    Another lefty to tmw probably means another round of the bad medicine that is Ben Francisco. When are we going to pull the plug on this guy were almost in mid may and he’s still on this team.

  • Pat D

    This is off-topic, but I find it interesting that someone suggested this about everyone’s least favorite teddy bear in Boston.


    What I found interesting is that apparently there was a resolution to the whole he-tested-positive-before thing? I had no idea!

    • Deathstroke Heathcott

      Hush, if it’s not A-Rod we (the media) don’t wanna hear about it.

    • fin

      Its amazing that Ortiz is the only dude who has been let off the hook out of all those guys. I’d like Mike to do a comparison of what the Yankees players went through compared to the Sox. I never understood how Ortiz got a pass, a middling player who became great past the point almost all players achieve greatness, tested positive and no one believes it. It like saying Socia was wrongly positive.

      • Kiko Jones

        It’s just like everyone else being comfortable with the lack of Red Sox players in the Mitchell Report.

      • JohnnyC

        It’s almost as if Bud Selig summarily exempted the Red Sox from PED sanctions. Well, they needed to halt that 86 year drought. After all, money talks and MLB owners sure do listen.

  • Improbable Island’s Dirty Midget Whores (formerly RRR)

    I’m not sure I share everybody else’s view on the overall awesomeness of the game, but man was that ninth inning wild. That was a lot of fun, gave an epic fist pump and yell when Boesch reached first.

  • mustang

    “So apparently any time a Yankee slumps, all I have to do to wake them up is write a post”


    and apparently Mr.Phelps also had answer for this:

    “but I do think the Yankees should at least consider starting Vidal Nuno the next time this rotation spot comes around”


    • mustang

      I believe Mr. Nunez did the same when you wrote about his bat.

      Just keep writing Mike hopefully you can write them right into a championship


      • jim p

        We need a few “It’s long past time when the Yankees get at least 2 hits from every batter for twenty games.” type articles.

      • Mouse

        Ah, but even Mike’s write ups won’t help Ben Francisco.

        • mustang

          So True.

    • Robinson Tilapia

      I also present for evidence that we started mentioning Prussia in the game thread around the 8th inning.

      • mustang

        Someone has to explain this “Prussia” thing to me?

  • fin

    The pitching has been fantastic. Its amazing these guys are winning games at the rate they are. Its all about how well they are pitching. Even when they loose they are only giving up 2 or 3 runs. I keep expecting an 8 or 9 game loosing streak, but they scrap every night and come away with more wins than losses.

    I cant say I believe this lineup can keep winning for another day let alone another month, but its been amazing so far.

    • Mouse

      Say what you will about this team but they remind me a lot of the SF Giants: below average offense but above average pitching. That seems to be the winning formula for the Giants two out of the past three years.

      This Yankee team might just surprise a few people when all is said and done.

      • Brian S.

        The Giants had the 9th best team wRC+ in baseball last year.

      • Matt

        Except the Giants weren’t due to get back Granderson, Youkilis, Teixeira, Jeter, A-Rod, and Cervelli from the disabled list by the All Star Break.

  • Need Pitching & Hitting (but mostly hitting)

    Angel Hernandez being Angel Hernandez.


    Potential game tying HR for Oakland ruled a double on the field, replays showed it was very clearly a HR, umpires view instant replay, rule it a double. No use in instant replay if the umpires can’t even see rather obvious calls on replay.

  • Mike N

    So happy to wake up and see the box score! These mountain/west games are too damn late for me to stay up for the end! Gonna watch today’s game on mlb.tv in my office!

    • trr

      Dear Mike
      Please see me –
      Your Boss

  • Eddard

    Big Game Dave Phelps earned his nickname last night. And now they have a chance to take the series with CC on the mound. They have something in Preston Claiborne, lets just hope they realize it.

    • MannyGeee

      Didn’t know he was labeled Big Game Dave.

      By anyone but Eddard, that is. But good for him, earning Eddard’s pet name for him.

      • Robinson Tilapia

        Someone’s got to keep him happy while Nuney nurses that oblique.

  • Hall and Nokes

    So when do we start saying that the Yankees’ record is being artificially propped up by a fluky record in 1-run games?

    • Eddard

      I won’t. I never thought the Os were pretenders and they’re proving they’re for real again this season. People said they’d go away all year last season and they never did. Then they said they’d go away this season and thus far they have not. We’ve got good pitching, that’s how you win 1 run ballgames.

    • Havok9120

      About halfway through, same as we did for the O’s.

  • Mike HC

    Missed the game last night. Nice recap. Vernon looking slick at third!