Yankees’ third base coach explains controversial decision to send Aaron Judge home

New York Yankees, Phil Nevins
Feb 23, 2018; Tampa, FL, USA; New York Yankees third base coach Phil Nevin (53) at George M. Steinbrenner Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Yankees were eliminated in Tuesday’s Wild Card game at the hands of their biggest rivals, the Boston Red Sox. They lost 6-2 at Fenway Park, in a game in which the Yankees’ offense went missing yet again. Gerrit Cole couldn’t complete three innings, and besides Giancarlo Stanton and Anthony Rizzo, the bats couldn’t get much going.

There was a pivotal play in the sixth inning, though. With one out, Rizzo belted a solo home run that brought the score closer, 3-1. Aaron Judge got on base via infield single, and that’s when Red Sox manager Alex Cora took out Nate Eovaldi, his starter, who had been dealing.

Stanton came to the plate and hit one off the Green Monster. With Judge’s sprint speed only slightly above-average, Boston outfielders’ knowledge of their home park and how the ball bounces off the Monster, and the 114.9-mph blast, it made sense to hold Judge at third.

Yankees’ third base coach Phil Nevin waited a long time, perhaps too much, and sent him home when he was almost at third base. He was called out on a beautiful defensive play by the Red Sox that included quickness and precision from Kike Hernandez and Xander Bogaerts.

A costly mistake by the Yankees’ coach

Had Nevin held Judge, the Yankees would have had men on the corners and one out, down two runs. The outlook could have been different.

Former Yankees’ star Alex Rodriguez said on ESPN: “You don’t have to overthink that one. I’m surprised of the magnitude of that mistake [by Nevin] in this situation.”

Nevin talked to the New York Post and fought back: “The guy has never been in that situation, but thinks he has a good idea of what baseball is in that spot and he’s wrong. He’s never been in that position.”

Nevin then explained his thought process: “I know what it looks like. I know what the situation is. I know what kind of third-base coach I am. I made a play to win the game. It didn’t work out. It was a great baseball play on their side. In a big moment, it didn’t go our way. … I was in the right position, made the right read [and] had conviction in my send. But I get it. I get why people are upset and people are mad.”

Joey Gallo popped out to end the threat and the Yankees could only score again in the ninth on a Stanton’s solo homer. That was it.

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