A Yankees loss tonight would have meant three in a row and a clinch of a second straight series loss. The Yanks did not think too highly of this possibility, so they won tonight at Coors Field by a score of 3-2, but it was about as bizarre a game as they've had so far in 2013. The oddities began before the game, when manager Joe Girardi decided to bat pitcher David Phelps eighth and rookie catcher Austin Romine ninth in an attempt to increase the likelihood that Robinson Cano or Vernon Wells would come up in a RBI situation. It didn't end up making much of a difference, but it was the first time since 1957 that a Yankee pitcher hit eighth in a lineup.
The game itself was duel between the two pitching staffs aside from a couple dingers. Juan Nicasio gave up a leadoff single to Brett Gardner to begin the night, and he came around to score on a two-run blast to left field by Wells. It was a good start, but Nicasio allowed the Yankees just one baserunner for the rest of his outing, which ended after five innings and five strikeouts. Phelps also brought his better stuff to the ballpark today, but he too was burned by one frame. In the second, Wilin Rosario doubled to right and veteran first baseman Todd Helton crushed a two-run bomb of his own to right field, knotting the game at two apiece.
The score remained even for the majority of the game, as the starters settled down and the cavalcade of relievers held the fort. The Yankees failed to capitalize on gift scoring opportunities offered by Rockies center fielder Dexter Fowler. In consecutive innings, Fowler lollygagged to singles in center that turned into errors. Josh Outman picked up the slack, striking out Lyle Overbay with Wells on second and two outs in the sixth, then inducing a groundout from pinch-hitter Ben Francisco with Chris Nelson on third and two outs in the seventh. Nelson finally cracked his 0-fer, but to no avail, as Girardi strangely decided to go with the struggling Francisco over Travis Hafner in a pinch-hit role. Outman was a lefty, but Girardi's demonstrated confidence in Pronk's ability to hit southpaws. Alas.
Rookie Preston Claiborne threw another perfect inning in the seventh to add to his two perfect innings on Sunday against the Athletics. It's obviously a minuscule sample size, but Claiborne has looked fantastic on the mound. David Robertson made his first appearance on the mound in a week after taking the Oakland series off, and he worked around a HBP to pinch-hitter Troy Tulowizki to strand the Rockies runner on second base with consecutive chances for the Rox to take the lead.
The Yanks finally scratched out a run against Rockies closer Rafael Betancourt in the ninth inning. Wells singled to left for his third hit of the night (he entered the game 5-for-his-last-30), then stole second when Jonathan Herrera dropped Rosario's throw. Overbay walked, and Ichiro Suzuki bunted them over with no one out. Betancourt was a little wild with Jayson Nix and they ended up intentionally walking him (lol) after a few balls. Girardi decided to finally play his trump card and pinch-hit the lefty Hafner for Nelson to face the righty Betancourt. It was an ideal situation... but Pronk struck out. Girardi called on the last legitimate bullet on his bench to pinch-hit for Robertson--Brennan Boesch.
The lefty hit one slowly to third that he beat out for a hit, but any chance for more runs was thwarted by Nix getting caught off second base like a nincompoop. Replays also showed that Boesch may have been out by a hair at first base. It was a damn close play. Regardless, Mariano Rivera entered for the ninth and secured his first career save in Colorado. The ninth was bizarre, as Wells had to play third base since Hafner pinch-hit for Nelson, something the veteran has never done in his entire career (including the minors). Hell, he even got a ball hit to him, and got the assist with a good throw! Also lolz:
Vernon Wells said last time he played infield was high school -- after his team's ENTIRE INFIELD didn't make grades and he had to step in— Daniel Barbarisi (@DanBarbarisi) May 9, 2013
The game got a little scary when Michael Cuddyer singled with two outs and stole second to move into scoring position, but it was to no avail for the Rockies, as Rosario flew out to center to end it.