CLEVELAND -- Marcus Thames thought the Yankees might have been joking when they asked him to man third base in the final inning of Thursday's game, an 11-4 win, but he was game to take his chances.
"It is what it is," Thames said. "They asked me to go over there and help out because they wanted to get Alex [Rodriguez] out of there. I told him I'd go over there as long as I had a cup on."
Sure enough, the way these things work, Thames was going to be tested. The test came with Chan Ho Park trying to close out the Tribe, as Jayson Nix rocketed a ball to third. Thames made a sharp sliding stab, but his throw sailed wildly into the field-level seats behind first base.
"I threw it like a quarterback," he said. "I was looking for Andre Rison or somebody on the slant. Robbie [Cano] was laughing at me pretty good."
So were the rest of the Yankees, though not as much as they ribbed Nick Swisher for striking out against position player Andy Marte in the top half of the ninth inning. But Thames got his share of wisecracks lobbed at him postgame.
"He made a great stop, but that's only half the play," manager Joe Girardi said.
"The throw was a little wild, but it was a hell of a stop," Rodriguez said.
Thames said that Derek Jeter had warned him that the Indians were going to hit one his way. It figures -- Thames guessed he hadn't played third base since 1986 or so.
"It was the first position I ever played when I first started playing baseball," he said. "My older brother, they needed an extra guy, and I was just a batboy that day. I think I was 9, and I had to fill in. That day, the first ball came to me, too."