By Chad Jennings
Before he stepped onto the field for his big league debut, Rob Refsnyder was sure he’d be able to see his dad in the stands. If he knew roughly where to look, a 6-foot-8 guy should be easy to spot. Maybe that’s the case in Buffalo, but in the buzz of Fenway Park? Refsnyder never saw him.
“It just looked like a bunch of little dots out there,” he said. “Good experience. It’s a lot louder than some of the minor-league venues I’ve been at.”
After an 0-for-3 with a near base hit, a couple of nice plays in the field, and a fairly hard slide from Pablo Sandoval, Refsnyder’s debut drew fairly concise analysis from Joe Girardi.
“He did fine,” Girardi said. “Everything. His defense. His at-bats. I was OK with everything.”
The eighth-inning play at second when Sandoval went into the bag hard and Refsnyder had to double clutch, costing a double play?
“I thought he rolled; he rolled into him,” Girardi said. “It’s tough. He has to hang in there. It’s a little late developing and he has to hang in there, so no, I didn’t have a problem with what Ref did. He did the best he could.”
The better plays came earlier in the game, first with Refsnyder turning a big double play to end the second inning, then with Refsnyder making a nice charging play for the first out of the third.
“After the double play, I think I kind of settled in,” Refsnyder said. “It was nice. Chase gave me a great feed right in the chest; kind of textbook from him. Chase made my life and job a lot easier for that one play, for sure.”
If not for Refsnyder, this would have been a perfectly forgettable game, really. It might end up being important in the standings, but it wasn’t a game that individually stood out. The Yankees offense wasn’t great but nearly tied it on Brian McCann’s long fly ball in the ninth. Chris Young took a bad route, Jacoby Ellsbury had a big game, and Ivan Nova was pretty good except for one pitch to Hanley Ramirez. It wasn’t particularly memorable by most standards, except for the young guy at second base.
“It was quite an experience, you know,” Refsnyder said. “I was brought up in a sports family, and sports fans, it’s a dream come true, obviously. Humbling. A lot of people have helped me get to this moment, so it’s really special and obviously I would have like to have got a hit and helped the team win, but it’s something I’ll remember for the rest of my life.”
• Another solid start for Ivan Nova who has a 3.42 ERA since coming off the disabled list, but the Yankees have won only one of his four starts. “Physically, I can feel one way, but we lost the game,” Nova said. “Obviously it doesn’t make anybody feel good.”
• Nova set or matched season highs in innings (6.2), hits (8), and earned runs (4). He is now 5-10 with a 5.04 ERA in his past 22 road games. “Besides the one pitch to Hanley, he was pretty good,” Girardi said. “He left a fastball up, and he really made him pay for it. … Maybe mixing in his changeup a little more as he sees some of these left-handed hitters and goes through the lineup a second and third time (will help going forward), but I’ve been pretty pleased with the way he’s thrown the baseball. He’s given us a chance to win every game.”
• Girardi said he pulled Nova after 86 pitches because Mookie Betts had doubled against him in the previous at-bat. It was very similar to pulling Michael Pineda last night. “And I just thought his fastball started getting up a little bit and didn’t have the sink it did before,” Girardi said. “… I brought in the guys that are very capable of keeping it there, but we just weren’t able to do it tonight.”
• It was Adam Warren who gave up two run-scoring hits in relief of Nova. Warren actually didn’t get an out while facing three batters. “They just put some good at-bats on him,” Girardi said. “They put some long at-bats on him. They squeak a ball through the holes. I thought he threw the ball fine, but we just couldn’t get that third out.”
• Can’t talk about Warren’s outing without mentioning the bad route Chris Young took on the Betts triple. “Two strikes, I came in a few steps,” Young said. “Playing a little more shallow trying to guard against the base hit. He put good wood on the ball. I tried to just turn my head and get to a spot as quick as possible because, if you’re running and trying to look at the same time, you just can’t gain as much ground. Took off to my spot and when I looked back up, it faded a little more than I thought, and the ball beat me to the spot.”
• Alex Rodriguez hit his 27th home run at Fenway, tying him with Lou Gehrig and Joe Gordon for the seventh most ever hit in this park by a visiting player. He last homered in back-to-back games against the Red Sox when he hit four homers in three games in 2010 at Yankee Stadium.
• For just a little while, it seemed Brian McCann might have tied the game on the final swing, but his long fly ball was hit to the wrong part of the park. “I did (think it had a chance),” Girardi said. “But then you saw it drifting more toward center and that’s when I started, you know, it gets in that corner and it’s deep.”
• Did Refsnyder think he had a hit on his ball to right field? “To be honest, I got blocked out by Napoli so I couldn’t really see the ball,” he said. “But I heard the reaction from the crowd and that was enough to kind of let that settle in. But good play. The first ball I hit pretty hard for a double play and then I missed the fastball on the last one. But all in all, it was a pretty good experience.”
• Final word to Refsnyder: “Before batting practice, John Ryan Murphy, who I’ve known ever since I got drafted, he’s always gone out of his way to make me comfortable, he’s a great guy, a great human being, he took me down and kinda gave me a little tour, and I sat in the dugout a little bit and just soaked it in. A really special moment.”