Thursday, May 9, 2013

Oh My Gosh, It's Brennan Boesch!

Vernon Wells hit a home run in the 1st inning last night at Coors Field.  This would not seem like an odd thing, except that, since the Colorado Rockies began play 20 years ago, their home field (Mile High Stadium for the first 2 seasons, Coors ever since) has been, due to the city's mile-high elevation, a home run haven.  But, other than that home run, the Yankees have played 18 innings in Denver this week and scored exactly ONE run.

That one run became crucial, because David Phelps gave the 2 runs from Wells' homer back in the bottom of the 2nd, on a home run to the greatest player in Rockies' history, Todd Helton (who is rumored to be retiring after this season).  Other than that, he pitched pretty well: 6 innings, 2 runs (as previously mentioned), 3 hits, 1 walk.

The game went to the 9th inning, and Wells led off with a single and a stolen base.  Rox reliever Rafael Betancourt must have been unnerved by this, because he walked Lyle Overbay.  Ichiro Suzuki bunted the runners over -- so the Yankees could score the potential winning run without a hit, and 2 runs with a hit.  But Betancourt struck out Travis Hafner.  Then he intentionally walked Jayson Nix.

Why did he walk Nix to load the bases? Because this was an Interleague game in a National League park, and we were playing pre-1973 rules, so there's no designated hitter, so the pitcher's spot in the order came up next.  Joe Girardi sent Brennan Boesch up to pinch-hit for David Robertson, who, like the rookie Preston Claiborne, had pitched a scoreless inning in relief of Phelps.

Boesch hit one to 3rd base.  Nolan Arenado threw over to 1st, but Boesch beat it out.  Wells scored.  3-2 Yankees.

Then, in the bottom of the 9th, Girardi, who spent the biggest (though not the best) part of his career as an NL catcher, and whose first managing job was in the lesser league (with the team then named the Florida Marlins), played chess with his defense.  He moved Wells from left field to 3rd base, a position he had never played before -- not even in Little League.  He moved Ichiro from right field to left.  He kept Boesch in the game as the right fielder.  He took Austin Romine out from behind the plate, and made Chris Stewart his catcher.  He also put in a double switch, thus putting off for an additional inning the choice of what to do in the pitcher's spot, so that Stewart would bat 9th, and new pitcher Mariano Rivera went into the 7th spot.

In other words, if the Rockies tied it up in the bottom of the 9th, they might as well have won it there, because, in terms of remaining substitutions, the Yankees were screwed.  Girardi's Binder made him take a composite gamble, and if it didn't pay off, it was going to bite him in the ass.  (Holy mixed metaphor, Batman.)

Mo got the first 2 outs.  Then he allowed a single to Michael Cuddyer, who stole 2nd.  Now the tying run could get home on a hit.

But Mo got Wilin Rosario to fly out.  Ballgame over, Yankees win, theeee Yankees win.

So Girardi got away with his binderizing.  This time.

WP: Robertson (2-0).  SV: Rivera (12).  LP: Betancourt (1-1).

*

With the Boston Red Sox losing by a football score to the Minnesota Twins, 15-8, and the Baltimore Orioles beating the Kansas City Royals, 5-3, the Yanks, Sox and O's are now all tied for 1st place in the AL East, at least in the All-Important Loss Column:

Baltimore 21-13 .618
Boston 21-13 .618
New York 19-13 .594
Tampa Bay 15-18 .455
Toronto 13-22 .371

The series concludes this afternoon, at 3:10 PM Eastern Time (1:10 local, Mountain Time), with CC Sabathia pitching against Jeff Francis.

*

Joe Astroth died.  One of the last surviving players who played for the Philadelphia Athletics, the Southern Illinois native was with the A's from 1945 to 1956, including the 1st 2 seasons in Kansas City.  He was a catcher, and his best year was in 1953, when he batted .296.  He was 90.

Brad Lesley died.  The Northern California native was a relief pitcher who managed 4 saves in 28 appearances for a horrible Cincinnati Reds team in 1982, one that was finally feeling the effects of losing all the Big Red Machine players of the 1970s (except Johnny Bench, who had one more season left in him).  He was known as "The Animal" for his exuberant victory celebration.  Injuries doomed his career, and he threw his last North American pitch in 1985, at age 27.

Like a lot of major leaguers, he tried to revive his career in Japan.  He pitched 2 seasons for the Hyogo-based Hankyu Braves, who now play in Osaka as the Orix Buffaloes.  (Ichiro played for them under the Orix name.) The Japanese took to him, and he became a panelist on a game show.  This led to an acting career, usually credited under his full name, Bradley Jay Lesley.  In 1992, Tom Selleck made Mr. Baseball, about an American slugger who tries to revive his career in Japan, and Lesley played one of the other American players.  In 1994, he played Minnesota Twins reliever John "Blackout" Gatling in Little Big League, a film that gets underrated because it came out so soon after the similar and better-remembered Rookie of the Year.  (Incidentally, as Henry Rowengartner of the '93 Cubs and Billy Heywood of the '94 Twins were 12 years old at the time of their movies, they would now be 32 and 31, respectively.)

Lesley returned to California to help his acting career, and was still acting as late as 2001.  But he developed kidney problems.  He was only 54.

No comments: