David Phelps took the loss today, but on a day when the Yankees young pitchers stole the show, there was something fitting about Phelps being the first one on the mound.
“I think Dave kind of started something last year when he came up and did well,” Adam Warren said. “For us guys down in the minor leagues, we’re kind of like, well, we might have a chance to help this team. So you kind of get that little bit of glimmer of hope. Now, this year, guys are getting some opportunities and we’re trying to take advantage of them. We have that confidence coming up that we know we can get outs, so I think that really helped us.”
Facing a lineup with the highest team slugging percentage in baseball, Phelps, Warren, Vidal Nuno and Preston Claiborne — with one out of support from Boone Logan — combined to allow one run through 17 innings. At no point were any of those four considered pitching standouts in the minor league system. Phelps and Warren were largely overshadowed by Manny Banuelos and Dellin Betances. Claiborne has played second fiddle — maybe even third or fourth fiddle — to Mark Montgomery. Nuno arrived out of independent ball two years ago.
“To be able to shut this team down…” Joe Girardi said, with no need to finish that thought. “This team’s been swinging the bats, swinging the bats, and they’re very balanced. They’ve got switch hitters, left handers, right handers, speed.
It’s an unbelievable job by our staff, and by Larry (Rothschild) preparing these guys.”
Phelps allowed one run through 6.2 innings in the first game, Claiborne added yet another scoreless inning of relief, and Warren got what might have been his first ever save — he can’t remember another one, but said he might have had one in high school — but the real show stealer was Nuno, who hadn’t pitched since his April 30 big league debut, yet he came out throwing strikes, impressing Girardi with his confidence and poise.
“He knows how to pitch and went in there and was ready to compete,” Austin Romine said. “Nothing really fazes him. He’s really calm out on the mound. You can see he’s ready to go. … I think anybody would be kind of a little anxious or excited. He’s been (not anxious) in the starts I had him in Triple-A. He’s just real calm and collected, goes out there and makes pitches and never tries to do too much. That’s what he did tonight.”
The Nuno/Warren shutout in Game 2 salvaged a doubleheader split and capped a wildly successful road trip against three teams that had been playing well when the Yankees came to town (Cleveland had won 12 of 14 before today). The Yankees won six of eight on this trip, and now they could get their first big bat off the disabled list tomorrow.
“Obviously it’s nice to allow one run through two games,” Warren said. “But I feel like we’re just kind of riding the momentum of this team. I feel like we’re on a roll right now. We’re just trying to give the team a chance to win every time we’re out there and just ride the momentum a little bit.”
• Pretty good day for the young guys all around, really. Nuno got his first win, Warren got his first save, Corban Joseph got his first hit and Romine got his first RBI. “First (major league) start being at first base, I never thought that would happen,” Joseph said. “But there’s opportunity. When you get called to do a job, you have to make the best of it. I tried to be selective at the plate and do something productive for the team.”
• This was Romine’s first big league hit since 2011. “I look forward to getting in the lineup any time I can,” Romine said. “I want to play, but Joe makes the lineup and whenever I’m in there, I’m in there, and I give 110 (percent) whenever I can.”
• Joseph had the first locker as you walk into the visiting clubhouse here at Progressive Field. That locker usually goes to someone else when the Yankees are in town: Derek Jeter. Joseph said Jeter’s locker must have been lucky because of that seventh-inning double. It was Joseph’s hit that kick-started that six-run inning. “I think I’m going to give (the ball) to my mom,” Joseph said. “Good Mother’s Day present.”
• Girardi said Nuno was not going to pitch beyond Asdrubal Cabrera in the fifth. That was his last batter, and his last chance to go deep enough to get a decision. Nuno got a called strike three. Ahead in the count 0-2, Nuno and Romine discussed what pitch to throw. “He wanted something down in the zone, a breaking ball,” Nuno said. “I told him, ‘Let’s just go with the heater away and I’ll pinpoint it.’ And I just did that.”
• Oddly enough, Nuno got his first career win against the team that drafted. Mean anything to him? “A little bit,” he said. “They gave me a shot, so I’ll just take advantage of it and just keep on playing baseball.”
• Phelps really struggled with fastball command early, but he got going late. “My changeup was really good again today,” he said. “There were a lot of behind-in-the-count, offspeed pitches that we were getting groundballs and popups on. Then those times when we were ahead in the count, we were putting guys away early. I was fortunate. I was pretty lucky today, to walk five guys and still be out there in the seventh inning.”
• Optioned to Triple-A between games, Brennan Boesch actually seemed to take the demotion about as well as anyone can take it. “Obviously the role that I was given isn’t a role that anyone would want,” Boesch said. “My goal is to be an everyday play again. The first step in doing that is going down there and getting some at-bats, working hard down there. That’s really the first step to get back to where I need to be.”
• Boesch said he would actually prefer playing everyday in Triple-A than playing so rarely in the big leagues. As far as I can remember, I’ve never, ever heard a player say that. “A lot of interesting starts against some tough lefties, pinch-hits,” Boesch said. “It’s something that I prefer to go down at this point and work and to play.”
• Final word goes to Girardi: “This was a great road trip for us. We played three teams that were playing extremely well. I think Colorado was, what, a game or two out when we played them. Kansas City was tied for first place when we faced them, and these guys are in first. So, to be able to do that, that’s a really good road trip.”
Associated Press photos