Girardi makes pitching change mid-at-bat

Yankees manager lifts Wilson for Betances, who eventually preserves lead

Girardi makes pitching change mid-at-bat

NEW YORK -- The Yankees were almost out of the inning. One strike away, actually. Then Joe Girardi decided it was time for some strategy, which almost led to disaster in a 13-3 win over Red Sox on Tuesday night.

Justin Wilson replaced Masahiro Tanaka in the seventh inning after Tanaka allowed a leadoff home run. Wilson gave up a single and a stolen base, but had forced two outs and was well on his way to a third, with Jackie Bradley Jr. in a 1-2 count.

As Wilson prepared his next pitch, Girardi jogged out of the dugout, motioning to the bullpen as he approached the mound. Just one strike away from ending the inning, Wilson was pulled and replaced with Dellin Betances.

"I think it's odd just because it was in the middle of the at-bat," Wilson said. "But for him to bring in Dellin after me is not odd."

Girardi wouldn't reveal the factors behind his decision, saying only, "Strategy." On the mound, he told Wilson that Betances was simply the best option to close out the inning.

Not that Betances made it easy on himself. He threw three consecutive curveballs to Bradley, each of which ended up in the dirt, for a walk. One resulted in a wild pitch that allowed Rusney Castillo to advance to third base. Bradley then stole second before Betances recovered to strike out Brock Holt.

Betances preserves the lead

As the at-bat's finishing pitcher, Betances was charged with the walk.

"It was kind of strange, but I'm ready for whatever," Betances said. "I didn't make it easy, but 1-2, I like my chances there. Just trying to make him chase. He took some of those pitches, and I tried to get the next guy."

The mid-at-bat pitching change, while unusual, is legal. MLB rule 5.10(b) reads, "A player, or players may be substituted during a game any time the ball is dead."

Within minutes, the Yankees' offense rendered the decision to a footnote. Nine runs in a half-inning will do that.

Alden Woods is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.