Sunday, May 19, 2013

Itchin' to Stay Pitchin'

Phelps and Cano lead the way in Yankees win over Blue Jays

By Rich Mancuso

BRONX, NEW YORK, MAY 19- David Phelps came out of the New York Yankees bullpen and put into a temporary starting role for the injured Ivan Nova. Manager Joe Girardi, who has depended on various replacements because of the walking wounded in pinstripes, may want to retain Phelps as a starter after his latest outing Saturday afternoon in the Bronx.

Phelps, in his fourth start for the injured Nova, struck out eight and threw a season-high seven innings as the Yankees defeated the Toronto Blue Jays 7-2 at Yankee Stadium, their ninth straight win over the struggling Jays in the Bronx. New York goes for a sweep of the three-game series Sunday afternoon with left hander CC Sabathia (4-3) getting the start

Phelps, (2-2) earned his first win as a starter this season. He was dominant and Toronto had trouble getting runs home. That started in the first inning when the right hander picked off Jose Bautista at second and struck out J.P. Arencibia to conclude an inning that appeared to be trouble.

And in the third inning, Phelps with runners on first and second induced Melky Cabrera to ground into a double play with no score in the game. Simply put, the Blue Jays could not mount a rally, and Phlelps continued to make a statement to his manager.

“He’s faced two tough lineups his last two starts, that’s not easy to do,” commented Girardi. He was referring to Phelps’ last outing at Cleveland on Monday, the Yankees’ game one loss of two where Phelps allowed one-run in 6.2 innings in a 1-0 loss.

Girardi added, about his replacement starter, important also because of Andy Pettitte put on the 15-day disabled list, “It’s not easy to do. He continues to make strides. We always envisioned him as a starter. We like what he is doing.”

And, there is every reason to envision Phelps staying around. Nova is not expected back anytime soon. The Yankees bullpen would benefit with the addition again of Phelps, but seems to be doing fine having had a stretch of 28.0 consecutive scoreless innings snapped Wednesday night in a loss to Seattle.

“I was making pitches when I needed to, “said Phelps. “I was all over the place today." Besides giving up six hits, he walked three. He added, “I will do everything I can to stay here and help this team win.”

He alluded to a Yankees team that has been hindered with injuries, and with viable replacements that have been doing the job, which is good enough for their ninth win in their last 12 games and first place in the American League East.

“A lot have picked us to be last, but this has been a group effort in this clubhouse,” he said. “I would like to continue to be a part of this here.”

The Yankees used the long ball again. Robinson Cano recorded his 12th career multi-home run game and Travis Hafner homered in his first game since Monday at Cleveland after missing the last five games with right shoulder inflammation.

“He makes everyone that much better,” commented Girardi about Cano who hit his 11th and 12th home runs in the third and fifth innings off losing pitcher Brandon Morrow (1-3). Both were hit with one-on and two-out.

It was the second loss in two starts this season for Morrow against the Yankees. On April 19 at the Rogers Centre up in Toronto, the Yankees tagged him for seven runs and nine hits in a 9-4 loss. This time it was Cano who did the damage.

Enough damage for Morrow to say, “New York’s Robinson Cano, he was the whole ballgame.”

Cano, ahead of his home run pace of last year commented, “That was a good game.” Yes it was for him, and the injury free second baseman was asked about taking a leadership role with the younger guys filling the void.

“That’s not the kind of thing in my mind right now. Right now the focus is just to win games.” And the way Cano is hitting the long ball and with Phelps filling the void as well, the Yankees could be winning a lot more ballgames.

Comment: Rich Mancuso-

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