Yankees continue to get the unexpected on the mound
By Rich Mancuso
BRONX, NEW YORK, AUGUST 9- If this becomes a continued and successful stretch run to the post season for the New York Yankees it will be credited to the unexpected who get the ball. With four-fifths of a starting pitching rotation injured, the latest acquisition made by GM Brian Cashman shined Friday night in the Bronx.
Esmil Rogers, acquired days after he was released by the Toronto Blue Jays, was the latest Yankees pitcher who has seemed to fit right in along with the Cashman signees of Brandon McCarthy and Chris Capuano. The 28- year-old, right-hander had a 5.84 ERA when he took the mound against the Cleveland Indians at Yankee Stadium Friday night.
Yet, that ERA must have been in another era. Because similar to the brief success of McCarthy and Capuano, Rogers for the moment looks like a good find. The Blue Jays put him on waivers and the Yankees claimed him the last day of July, though Rogers was not expected to be a starter.
With David Phelps unexpectedly going on the 15-day disabled list, manager Joe Girardi and the powers that be needed another starter. Rogers was available after making two relief appearances.
So in the category of don’t you know with the Yankees, a season of ups and downs, Rogers gave more than was asked for. The 5.0 innings pitched, allowing one run on four hits, and striking out three was more than you can ask for in the Yankees 10-6 win over Cleveland.
A longtime scout sitting up in the Yankee Stadium press box said Rogers had the right velocity on the fastball, and that the curve was locating. After a shaky first inning where he threw over 28 pitches, and yielded a run Rogers settled in.
Girardi had pinpointed 100 pitches for Rogers who threw 45 in a start with Toronto. He threw 88.
"This is what we have seen from him," Girardi said. "I just wasn't sure how much he would give us. I think we were pretty conscious of watching that his stuff continued to be sharp as his pitch count went up. He did a great job. There was a reason that we went and got these guys.”
Referring to McCarthy and Capuano, and now Rogers, Girardi said, "We felt that they could help us. They have pitched extremely well. I'm not sure any of us knew what to expect, but if you looked at, since the All-Star break, we have had a chance to win every game and that is because of them."
“I didn't have my confidence like I have right now,” Rogers (2-0) commented. He became the 12th pitcher to make a start for the Yankees. McCarthy, Capuano and the rookie Shane Greene all had quality starts against the AL central leading Tigers this week.
Rogers has the confidence, so does McCarthy who has won four straight since joining the Yankees and makes his sixth start Saturday afternoon. Capuano also seems to be comfortable and in the right situation. There is that overall attitude that the Yankees have turned this around and the winning will continue.
This was not supposed to be the makeshift pitching staff in place of CC Sabathia, Ivan Nova, Masahiro Tanaka, Michael Pineda and Phelps.
And all of s sudden the Yankees may have an excess in the pitching department with Pineda expected to return sometime next week after going down with an injury to the right shoulder in early May.
Girardi may have decisions to make, so will Cashman if this unexpected pitching continues to give the Yankees innings and length. That can’t hurt down the stretch as the Yankees are playing their best baseball of the season. They are seven games over .500 for the first time and 14-7 since the all star break.
Rogers was more comfortable with a nice lead. Girardi said again that getting runs makes it easier for the pitchers. Derek Jeter tied Honus Wagner for sixth place on the career list with his 3,430th hit in a five-run first inning and Carlos Beltran drove in five runs and hit a grand slam home run.
“It’s always good that there are players that can make the ballclub offensively and defensively better,” Beltran said.
And for the Yankees, the unexpected that are on this ballclub now are getting it done.
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