Nearly everyone outside the New York Yankees organization questioned Phil Nevin’s decision to wave home Aaron Judge in a key spot against the Boston Red Sox during Tuesday night’s American League Wild Card Game at Fenway Park.
Alex Rodriguez, who spent 13 years with the Yankees, was among the skeptics, saying on the ESPN broadcast he was surprised by “the magnitude” of the third base coach’s “mistake” in that situation.
Well, Nevin since has fired back, defending the decision in an interview with the New York Post and calling out the former Yankees star-turned-analyst for his in-the-moment criticism.
“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 told the Post. “He’s never been in that position.”
The play in question happened during the sixth inning Tuesday with the Red Sox leading 3-1. Giancarlo Stanton hit a one-out rocket off the Green Monster with Judge on first base.
The smart move would’ve been to hold Judge at third base — setting up second and third with one out — but Nevin instead sent the hulking Yankees slugger home, where he was gunned down by Red Sox shortstop Xander Bogaerts after an excellent relay from center fielder Kiké Hernández.
“I know what it looks like,” Nevin said, per the New York Post. “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.”
Admittedly, it was an all-around awesome play by the Red Sox. One slip-up, and Judge might’ve been safe. But the optics sure weren’t great, as Boston catcher Kevin Plawecki received Bogaerts’ throw in plenty of time. And the out killed the momentum the Yankees had built in the inning, paving the way for Boston’s 6-2 win.
Also, say what you want about A-Rod, one of the most polarizing players in Major League Baseball history, but he played for more than two decades at the highest level. While he’s never been a third base coach, he almost certainly has experience with similar decisions prior to plays at the plate.
For whatever it’s worth, Nevin told the New York Post he has a “good relationship” with Rodriguez. So, this likely will pass by the time the Yankees return to the field — next season.