Joe Girardi Batted His Pitcher Eighth And Had Vernon Wells Play Third

I don't know how much of this was Girardi and how much was The Binder, but somehow, for some reason, Joe Girardi managed a May game against the Rockies like it was an 18-inning World Series Game 7. And it...worked?

The Yankees are decimated by injuries, and entered last night with Chris Nelson, DFAed by the Rockies last week, starting at third. There were no backup infielders. It was an "all hands on deck" sort of game, as Brennan Boesch put it. But the weirdness began with the lineup card—the Yankees had starting pitcher David Phelps batting eighth, and catcher Austin Romine ninth.

Girardi's explanation was tortured (you can read the whole semi-sensical thing here), but he cited not wanting to bat three lefties in a row, and not wanting the pitcher's spot to open up any inning where Robinson Cano, slotted second, would hit.

So naturally, a tie game with two outs in the top of the ninth brought up the eight-hitter—by now, setup man David Robertson. Pinch-hitter Brennan Boesch came through with an infield single that scored Vernon Wells (Wells also hit a two-run HR earlier, for the Yankees' only offense). It put New York ahead, but there were problems—Chris Nelson had also been pinch-hit for (why?!), and the Yankees had no more infielders.

The Yankees defense in the bottom of the ninth looked like this.

  • Mariano Rivera pitching, batting in the seven-spot.
  • Ichiro Suzuki moving from RF to LF.
  • Brennan Boesch entering the game in right.
  • Vernon Wells moving from LF to third base.

Vernon Wells has never played third base before. He hasn't played the infield since high school:

“I got hit in the mouth when I was 12 at second base and I moved to the outfield,” Wells said. “In high school, report cards came out, and our entire infield failed, so I had to go play short. That’s a true story.”

He didn't even get to take infield warmups before the game because of the rain. But when told he was headed in, he grabbed his usual glove (it's small for an outfielder's mitt) and tried to contain himself.

"I was like a little kid just jumping around. Then I quickly stopped and realized, 'OK, I got to go play third base.'"

Was there ever any doubt the ball would find him?

The Yankees won—just how Girardi drew it up.