The Yankees were thinking big picture with what they did in the offseason, they were thinking big picture with how they went about managing and planning for their older and injury-concern-ier guys in Spring Training, and they're still thinking big picture now that the wins and losses matter. Joe worked his 6th starter into the rotation last night to give his horses a little more rest, and that meant another opportunity for Chase Whitley to show what he can do as a Major League starter. While the rest aspect became less important as news of Masahiro Tanaka's DL trip came out, Whitley's solid outing and place in the rotation for the foreseeable future became the focal point. Oh, and the Yankees won again.
It was another quick start for the offense, who jumped on Tampa starter Jake Odorizzi in the bottom of the 1st. Jacoby Ellsbury led off with a single and the 2 power bats hitting 3-4 with A-Rod out of the lineup did what you want them to do. Mark Teixeira and Brian McCann hit back-to-back doubles to plate 2 runs and give Whitley a lead with which to work.
As it turned out, those 2 runs were all the margin Whitley would need. He retired the side in order in the 1st, worked around 3 straight singles with 1 out in the 2nd, and got tagged for a solo run in the 3rd when Asdrubal Cabrera hit a 1-out RBI double. After that, Whitley settled down to work the 4th and 5th innings cleanly and his night was over after 93 pitches. He kept the Rays at 1, mixed fastball-slider-changeup pretty well, struck out 5, and got 7 more outs on the ground. It was a very good performance, one that called back to his initial run of success when he joined the rotation last year.
Odorizzi settled down for a little while too, but the Yankees got to him again in the 5th to nab their insurance runs. Once again, Ellsbury was right at the heart of the rally. His 1-out single got it started, Brett Gardner's single moved him to third, and when Gardner stole second the table was set again for McCann. He didn't play around. He got a first-pitch fastball on the outer half and he laced it into left for a 2-run double. Nothing fancy, no trying to pull for power or beat the shift or anything. Just saw the ball and squared it up, hit it right where it should have been hit for where it was pitched.
The bullpen got called on for more heavy lifting, and this time there was no Betances or Miller to make life easy. Chasen Shreve was the first man up and didn't get things off to a good start in the 6th. He walked the leadoff batter and gave up an RBI triple to Logan Forsythe on 8 pitches. He did managed to get 1 out before handing the ball to Esmil Rogers and Rogers showed him how it was done. Rogers got the final 2 outs of the 6th and easily navigated the 7th and 8th, striking out 5 Rays in the process. He was downright nasty. Chris Martin got the save opportunity over David Carpenter and he did just fine, working around a 2-out base hit to lock the win up with a strikeout. If you're keeping track at home, that's 10 wins in the last 12 games.
- Lot to like about Whitley's line, other than the small IP number: 5 IP, 6 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 5 K. 65 strikes on 93 pitches, so he was pounding the zone. 11 swinging strikes, which isn't bad at all for a guy who doesn't have much of a stuff reputation. He's going to get another opportunity here over the next month. Let's see what he learned from last year.
- Nice night for McCann with the 2 doubles and 3 ribbies. He's got 12 hits, 7 R, and 8 RBI over his last 10 games and his average is up to .266. Maybe he's starting to come around.
- Another multi-hit night for Ellsbury too, 3-4 with 2 R scored and 2 more stolen bases. The dude has just been an on-base machine.
- Very impressive outing for Rogers, who's quietly been much better than people are giving him credit for. He's got a 2.35 ERA in 15+ IP and has a 16/3 K/BB split. Maybe Roth knew what he was doing with him along.
- Tip of the cap to Martin for picking up his first career MLB save. When you've taken the path to get to the show that he has, that save means a little more.
- Don't look now, but Didi Gregorius has a hit in 4 straight games.
- Carlos Beltran Glue Factory Watch: 0-3, 2 LOB, looked like a slo-mo replay in the outfield. Season line down to .159/.217/.270.