KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Call this One for the Aged: Andy Pettitte, a month shy of his 41st birthday, pitched a seven-inning gem, and Vernon Wells, a mere 34 but widely considered washed-up when the Yankees, in their beneficence, agreed to take him and his healthy salary off the hands of the Los Angeles Angels, won the game with a home run, his eighth of the season. And coupled with losses by both the Boston Red Sox and the Baltimore Orioles, the Yankees are now a full game ahead of the rest of the AL East.
Thirty-five games into the season, Wells continues to look like one of the best deals GM Brian Cashman was ever ridiculed over. On a day in which James Shields brought his A-game, Wells tore into a 92 mph fastball and sent it on a line into the Yankees' bullpen. The ball was absolutely scalded and left the park so impressively that even Wells stopped for a moment to watch it.
"I was worried about it," said Wells, who now has eight homers and 18 RBI. "In batting practice the ball seemed to be dying out there, and I knew I crushed that one. I just wanted to make sure it got out of the park."
Wells also factored into the heart-stopping final moments of the game, when Mariano Rivera, after getting two quick outs, surrendered an opposite-field double to Salvador Perez and then just missed blowing his first save of the season when Mike Moustakas laced one off the right-field fence just a foot or two foul. Then, he hit one into the left-center gap that looked like it might drop until Wells ran it down for the final out.
"Just based on where [Chris Stewart] set up on that pitch and some of the swings Moustakas was taking, I had a feeling," Wells said. "He took some good swings and I knew that the only place he’d most likely be hitting that ball was in the gap. I kinda shaded that way a little bit and I was in the right place."
• Jayson Nix, who had two hits and scored three runs Friday night, had two more hits tonight.
• David Robertson blew away Alcides Escobar, Lorenzo Cain and Alex Gordon on strikes in the eighth inning, the first two looking. The Yankees bullpen has not allowed a run over the past four games, a stretch of 14 1/3 innings.
• The Yankees are now 7-1 in one-run games.
• Joe Girardi said no decision had been reached yet on whether to place Eduardo Nunez, who has not played since last Sunday, on the DL. Girardi said he would discuss the situation with Cashman tonight.