Yanks’ Pitching Heats Up
(Photos by Gary Quintal)
By Rich Mancuso
BRONX, NEW YORK, APRIL 9- The plan was for the New York Yankees bullpen was for Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller to be a force in what they call “The Two-Headed Monster.” One or the other would close games or come out of the gate to set up the closer in the eighth inning. On a cold and nasty night at Yankee Stadium the monster plan worked the first time for manager Joe Girardi.
Part of the Yankees strategy during the off season, when they lost closer David Robertson to free agency, was to find an alternative to fill the void. But Betances and Miller combined had two career saves. Girardi for the first time, in this the Yankees second game, went to Betances in the eighth and Miller worked a perfect ninth preserving a nasty Yankees 4-3 win over the Toronto Blue Jays.
The first win of the season for New York, and what is hoped will be more of that late bullpen duo in the Bronx.Though Betances allowed an unearned run in that eighth inning, which gave Toronto a 3-1 lead at the time, his velocity with the fastball was at 97. Considering that Betances struggled down in spring training, and there were concerns with his velocity, this certainly was a boost.
A boost, because one of the positive factors about this Yankees team is the strength of their bullpen. Miller would get his first career save as a Yankee working a perfect ninth and threw strikes. The plan worked for Girardi this time, and the Yankees hope for many more finishes of this one-two punch out of the pen, that is assuming there are games to protect a lead in the late innings.
"I'm perfectly satisfied with the way that they've prepared us,” Miller said. “It's our job to get outs when called upon.That's all we know." Miller, the left-hander combined to go 5-5 and a save with Baltimore and Boston last year. Betances, the right-hander had a stellar rookie season going 5-0 with a save. The earned run average was 1.40 in 7o appearances out of the pen.
It is a mix and match situation that Girardi will use when the situation is presented. Or could it be one or the other gets to close the game? That remains to be determined and after the second game of the season time will tell. The closer role for the Yankees was never an issue over the years because someone named Mariano Rivera had the job, and Robertson filled the role almost to perfection last season.
Betances (1-0) would get the win and Miller the save. Thursday evening the Yankees will be looking to get their first series win of the season. Will it be Betances getting the save or Miller getting the opportunity?
THE FIRST WIN: The Yankees came from behind with small ball and scored three runs in the eighth inning. Chase Headley got a tie breaking single that deflected off the wrist of Blue Jays’ reliever Brett Cecil…. There was a lack of offense coming from the Yankees in their second game on an otherwise ugly evening of weather at the ballpark for the announced 31.020 fans who braved the 43 degree temperatures, the smallest Yankees crowd since September 23, 2004 at the old ballpark across the street, though it appeared there were no more than 10-or 12 thousand in attendance…
Alex Rodriguez got the loudest and good cheers again and went 0-for-4…Jacoby Ellsbury reached base four times for the Yankees with two walks and two singles…. The one time ace, CC Sabathia gets his first start Thursday night in the series finale and all eyes will be watching to see the velocity and effects of a bad knee that ended his season against Milwaukee last May…
Michael Pineda tossed six innings, allowed two runs on six hits and struck out six. His first outing according to Girardi was efficient with the change up, slider and fastball. He would not get the decision. “The hitter,” Pineda said, “know I have three good pitches so I feel good about that.”
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