After a shaky start from ace Gerritt Cole, the New York Yankees had a shot at regaining momentum in the sixth inning of Tuesday's AL Wild Card game against the Boston Red Sox. A questionable decision from Yankees third-base coach Phil Nevin, however, prevented that from happening -- and the 50-year-old is not apologizing for what many pointed to as a reason for the Yankees' eventual 6-2 loss.
Down 3-1 in the sixth, Yankees outfielder Giancarlo Stanton smashed a double into Fenway Park's Green Monster with teammate Aaron Judge on first. Nevin sent Judge home as he rounded the bases, despite a strong throw from outfielder Kiké Hernandez to shortstop Xander Bogaerts, and catcher Kevin Plawecki tagged him out with time to spare. If Nevin kept Judge at third, New York would've had runners on second and third with only one out.
Yankees legend Alex Rodriguez called the game for ESPN and didn't mince words about Nevin's call, saying he was "surprised of the magnitude of that mistake." Nevin, who reportedly has a "good relationship" with Rodriguez, vehemently disagreed with the critique and called out the three-time AL MVP's experience in those situations -- or lack thereof.
"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," Nevin, who's served as the Yankees third-base coach since 2017 -- the year after Rodriguez retired from the Yankees -- told the New York Post. "He's never been in that position."
"I know what it looks like,'' he added. "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."
The play resulted in New York's second out, and outfielder Joey Gallo popped out -- leaving Stanton stranded at second -- for the third. It was the continuation of an abysmal stretch for Gallo, who mustered only two hits in 23 at-bats over the Yankees' final eight games. Despite Gallo's recent struggles, Nevin denied the idea that he sent Judge home because Gallo was on deck.
Numerous other factors, Nevin says, led to the decision.
"There were a lot of factors,'' Nevin said. "I did see the low throw [from center fielder Kiké Hernandez]. It was off line, as well. I factored in the wet surface, which ended up being the demise [of the play], because it was a quick skip into [Xander] Bogaerts' glove. He made a great baseball play and throw home."
"There was one out, so you're gonna be a little more aggressive than with no outs,'' Nevin added. "With two outs, it would be a no-brainer. If it had ended up second and third and one out and we don't score, I'd kick myself all night, too."
After New York's championship drought was extended to 12 years after Tuesday's AL Wild Card loss, its fans were likely kicking themselves, too.