It was a hideous start to tonight's game for the Bombers, the kind of start that immediately made you throw up your hands and say "here we go again." Only we didn't go there again. The offense fought back a couple times and took the lead late, and the bullpen stepped up to cover for a very short and very ineffective starting performance on the way to a satisfying win.
If you've watched enough David Phelps starts, you know it doesn't take long to know when he doesn't have it. I knew tonight was one of those games about 8 pitches in. He couldn't hit the outside corner against righties, he left too many pitches over the plate to lefties, and got touched up for 3 runs in a 32-pitch 1st inning. It was more of the same in the 2nd when Dustin Pedroia took him yard for a 2-run homer and
that was all Joe needed to see. He wasn't going to let Phelps face Mike Napoli for a second time and the game was in Chase Whitley's hands to start the 3rd. at that point whatever Phelps was feeling in his right elbow was enough for him to tell the coaching staff and leave the game when he finished the inning.
Clay Buchholz was equally awful, and after bailing him out with a patented Derek Jeter GIDP in the 1st, the Yankees turned a plethora of walks into 3 runs in the top of the 2nd thanks to a Brett Gardner 2-run double. A pair of doubles (one by Stephen Drew) brought another run home in the 4th and a string of hits (the big one a 2-run single by Drew) tied the game at 7 in the 5th. Why Buchholz was left in to face Drew there I will never know. Regardless of the reason, I'm thankful to John Farrell for the decision.
Whitley gave up a monster 2-run home run to Big Sloppi in the 4th but nothing more in his 2 innings. Newest bullpen arm Esmil Rogers was spectacular in his 3 clean frames. He pitched with a lead after Gardner yanked a 2-0 meatball into right to put the Yankees ahead in the 6th and held it with relative ease. From there it was a 1-2-3 8th for Betances and a heart-rate raising 9th by D-Rob for the save. The ugly start had a pleasant finish and the Yankees had the series victory they needed.
- The 2-inning outing was Phelps' shortest since moving into the rotation. It was actually the first time this year that he failed to complete 5 innings in a start.
- Ho-hum, just another 2-hit game for Carlos Beltran. That's 6 in a row and a 10-game hitting streak.
- Drew went 2-4 with 4 RBI and looked pretty comfortable at second base to me. So far I'd say his audition for next year is off to a good start.
- Gardner's homer was his 5th in 6 games. He reached base 4 times and came a triple short of the cycle. Just start molding (minting? chiseling?) his team MVP trophy now.
- Jacoby Ellsbury was the only Yankee batter to not reach base, taking an 0-5. He's 3-34 in his last 10 games.
- The Rogers-Betances-Robertson trio didn't allow a hit in the final 5 innings. Helluva way to get your Yankee career started if you're Esmil.