Coke has two outs and a smile
It’s not the way they draw it up on the first day of Spring Training, but Phil Coke found a way to wriggle out of a first-and-third, one-out jam in the eighth inning last night — an escape that set up the Yankees’ 2-1 walk-off victory when Hideki Matsui took Jim Johnson deep an inning later.
Coke relieved Andy Pettitte after 7 1/3 innings of work and his first pitch was rocketed on the ground to first base, where Mark
Teixeira alertly fielded it and made an off-balance throw home to catcher Jose
Molina to nail Cesar Izturis sliding feet-first for the second out.
“The tag is more impressive, because he’s got to know
exactly where the play is and where the guy is sliding,” Teixeira said.
“He’s blind. It’s easy for me to catch the ball and throw it toward
him. He made an incredible tag there.”
Still not out of trouble, Coke bounced a fastball to Adam Jones
that hit Molina in the chest protector and ricocheted toward the Yankees’
dugout. Brian Roberts broke from third base and tried to score the go-ahead
run, but the catcher’s throw to the plate was in time as Coke slapped
an inning-ending tag on the speedster.
“I got my glove down and there wasn’t somebody there to tag, and
then I looked up and saw him there going wide,” said Coke, who wildly pumped his fist and screamed after the call was made. “My reaction
was to just go get him because I didn’t want him touching that plate.”