Gonzalez records final out of ninth; Wells plays second base
NEW YORK -- The Yankees may not have been short on pitchers, but they still used their shortstop. Alberto Gonzalez came on to save the Yankees' bullpen in a blowout on Wednesday, when he relieved Brett Marshall and coaxed a fly ball in the ninth inning of New York's 12-2 loss to Seattle.
"A shortstop usually has pretty good command of where he's throwing the baseball all the time," manager Joe Girardi said of choosing Gonzalez. "So I just figured he's the guy."
Gonzalez, who started at short and went 1-for-3 at the plate, found himself on the mound after Marshall tired late in his Major League debut. The Yankees used two relievers after started Phil Hughes got knocked out in Seattle's seven-run first inning. Preston Claiborne worked through the third, and Marshall went all the way into the ninth.
Marshall, who worked 5 2/3 innings, threw 108 pitches but wouldn't be asked to get the last out. Gonzalez came on with two outs and two men on base in the ninth, and he got Robert Andino to fly out to shallow right-center. Prior to that outing, Gonzalez had never pitched in the Majors.
"We needed one out," Girardi said of the situation that allowed Gonzalez to pitch. "It's not something I want to do, but for me to bring in another pitcher, I think it doesn't make a lot of sense there. We're down 10 runs with three outs to go. They have a full bullpen with their closer rested."
The Yankees had to make a few changes to get Gonzalez to the mound. Jayson Nix, who entered the game as a substitute at second base, moved over to shortstop, and designated hitter Vernon Wells filled the void at second base. Last week at Colorado, Wells played third base for the first time in his career.
The last Yankees position player to pitch was outfielder Dewayne Wise, who got two outs and didn't allow any earned runs in one appearance last season. Hughes allowed seven runs on Wednesday, and Marshall was tagged with five more runs in his relief outing.
"He saved the bullpen is what he did," Girardi said of Marshall's lengthy appearance. "And that's not easy being a rookie, first time in there and being asked to do that. Usually, you try to put a young player on their first time in there in a situation where they don't have to give you a ton of distance or that sort of thing. I'm sure he would've liked to pitch a lot better, but he saved our bullpen."