Vernon Wells was a one man wrecking crew in the Yankees 3-2 win over the Colorado Rockies last night. Wells homered, singled twice, stole a base, and scored what proved to be the winning run. All of that might not have mattered if Wells hadn't grabbed an infielder's glove and manned the hot corner in the bottom of the 9th inning.
The game was tied at two apiece in the top of the 9th after Wells and the Rockies' Todd Helton hit 2-run home runs earlier in the game. Wells led off the inning with his third hit of the game and then stole second base.
With everyone thinking bunt, closer Rafael Betancourt walked Lyle Overbay. The bunt was on for sure after that and Ichiro Suzuki complied with a perfect sacrifice bunt. Jayson Nix was intentionally walked to set up a force at any base and led to a big decision by Joe Girardi.
With Chris Nelson due up, the Yankees manager sent up Travis Hafner to pinch hit, despite the fact that the Yankees were out of available infielders. (Eduardo Nunez was still unable to play due to strained rib cage.) Hafner struck out for the second out of the inning, which left things up to Brennan Boesch, who stepped in for pitcher David Robertson.
Boesch hit a ball in the whole between shortstop and third base that third baseman Nolan Arenado made a diving stop on. But Arenado's throw to first base was late and Wells crossed home plate to give the Yankees a 3-2 lead. The Yankees might have gotten more, but Nix was caught off of second bag and tagged for the final out of the inning.
"The ball will find you" is a long time, proven cliche that came to fruition in last night's game. Wells never played anywhere other then the three outfields spots in his 15 years in the big leagues and 549 minor league games. With Mariano Rivera on the mound for the save, Carlos Gonzalez hit a one-out chopper to Wells' left side. The third baseman deftly moved to his glove side, snared the ball out of the air, and made a perfect throw to first base. (Anyone else have horrible visions of Gary Sheffield filling in at his old position for the 2004 Yankees?) Michael Cuddyer reached on a single and stole second base, but Rivera retired catcher Wil Rosario on a fly out to earn the Yankees a 'W'. You can bet Wells was breathing a little easier after that.
Rivera was honored by the Rockies prior to the game in an on-field ceremony and also met with some of their employees earlier in the day. The only other time Rivera pitched in Colorado was a 1995 exhibition game.
David Phelps did a great job of saving the bullpen, which was short-handed, with seven gritty innings. he looked like he wouldn't make it past the 6th, but hung tough.
Ivan Nova could be activated to face the Cleveland Indians in one of Monday's twinbill with the Tribe.
Curtis Granderson has reported to Triple-A Scranton to continue his rehab from a broken forearm. There's a possibility he could be activated next week, by which time Girardi has to decide whether to put him in center or move him to left field and leave Gardner in the middle.
Girardi's lineup on Wednesday was Tony LaRussa style - he hit Phelps in the 8th spot and catcher Austin Romine 9th.