Shane Greene just carried a no hitter into the fifth inning of his first major-league start. He’s pitched well in Triple-A for about a month now — after making a strong first impression in spring training, then fighting to find a rhythm early in the season — and the Yankees have a rotation dotted with workload concerns, from the near career-high in innings for Chase Whitley to the desire to keep Hiroki Kuroda fresh for the last month of the season.
Doesn’t it make some sense to give Greene another start and at least consider the idea of keeping him in the rotation going forward?
“That’s obviously going to be a topic of discussion,” Joe Girardi said. “We haven’t made any decisions about what we’re doing moving forward, but we’ll figure it out here pretty quick.”
Wasn’t much for Greene to say on the matter. He said it’s not his decision (which is perfectly true) and that he’s focused on the things he can control (which seems like a pretty good idea) but he also called tonight’s game a “dream come true,” and I can’t imagine his dream has ever ended with an immediate demotion back to Triple-A.
It’s worth remembering that Greene pitched well in spring training and was one of the last cuts out of big league camp. He spent the month of April being called up and down three times between the big leagues and the minors. Little surprise, then, that it took him nearly two months to get a rhythm in Triple-A, but he’d found it recently. Greene had allowed just six earned runs through his last 28 innings before today’s call-up.
“My whole career I’ve definitely had a lot of ups and a lot of downs, so I’ve learned how to deal with that,” Greene said. “Even when I was struggling, one of the outings when I struggled was the best that I’ve still felt all year. I gave up like eight runs in three innings or something. It’s baseball. It happens. … Once I got on that five-day rhythm, I was good to go.”
How good can Greene be as a big league starter? I really don’t know. It was his ability to cut back on walks last season in Double-A that really forced him onto the prospect radar, and it was his ability to do that again tonight that seemed to make him so effective against the Indians. He hit a guy in the first inning, but ultimately didn’t walk anyone. He had a no-hitter until Nick Swisher’s two-out homer in the fifth.
“Tell myself I’d rather give up a home run than a walk,” Greene said. “And I did that, but just try to get ahead and make them hit my pitch.”
The Yankees have to decide tomorrow who comes off the roster to make room for Brandon McCarthy. If Greene’s not going to get another start, it probably makes sense to go ahead and send him back to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre so he can stay on this routine that’s finally gotten him pitching well after an up-and-down month of April. But if the Yankees have found another viable starter, it might also be worth restructuring 40 percent of their rotation, putting Whitley in the bullpen and finding out what they have in Greene.
“We’ve said all along this kid has a lot of talent,” Girardi said. “Sometimes it’s just figuring out what makes you successful and how you have to pitch. I don’t think he tried to do too much, and I think that’s pretty impressive, too. You didn’t see him overthrow at all. He changed speed on his fastball, as well. He threw some four-seamers up around 95-96. We knew he had talent, but he did an outstanding job.”
• Maybe he really was underwhelmed by the experience, but Dellin Betances played it pretty cool in the clubhouse after getting the first save of his career. Dave Robertson was unavailable after pitching three of the past four days, and so Betances got the final six outs to finish off the two-run win. “It’s pretty cool,” Betances said. “I was just trying to go out there and keep it the same. Make pitches, and thank God I was able to do that. For me, I’m just enjoying every day with the team, and just trying to go out there and do my job.”
• It wasn’t only Robertson who wasn’t available. Girardi said he also considered Adam Warren to be unavailable, and he was going to do everything he could to stay away from Matt Thornton and Shawn Kelley. That’s why David Huff came into a pretty tight game and pitched into the eighth. “I expanded Huff’s role a little bit tonight,” Girardi said. “I was trying to get Huff as far as I could go.”
• Good news on Carlos Beltran, who sounds pretty unconcerned about today’s knee issue. “Today I came and had a lot of treatment,” he said. “I felt better. The plan is to come tomorrow and do the whole preparation and see if I make the lineup. … The doctor came and said these type of injuries, with anti-inflammatories, it can be back (to normal) soon.”
• How did the Beltran injury happen in the first place? “I had a swing yesterday and my spike got caught in the batters box,” Beltran said. “Today I felt tight in the back of my knee. It’s not the knee. They said something about the hamstring tendon there, attached in the back of the knee.”
• Before tonight’s start, Justin Masterson had allowed just one earned run in 23.2 innings against the Yankees at Progressive Field. He’s having an awful season, though, and has now failed to go longer than four innings in three straight starts. In those starts, he’s allowed 13 earned runs in nine innings.
• Obviously Masterson doesn’t look like nearly the starter he was last year, but surely some credit goes to the Yankees who have scored a bunch of early runs in four of their past five games. They actually hit even better than the score indicates. “It always helps when it’s through the lineup because it gives you a lot of opportunities to score runs,” Girardi said. “We were a couple inches from scoring a whole bunch. The ball (Jacoby Ellsbury) hit, it’s an unbelievable play by Santana. You have a left-handed first baseman, he probably doesn’t make it. That’s kind of how it went. Zelous Wheeler hit that ball, if it was earlier in the game, that’s a home run, but the wind changed directions. I thought we squared up a lot of balls tonight.”
• Brett Gardner, Brian McCann and Ichiro Suzuki each had three hits tonight. Brian Roberts had two hits. Five different Yankees had an RBI.
• Pretty cool play by the Yankees to double off Jason Kipnis in the eighth. Zelous Wheeler caught a foul pop up, but Kipnis was running on the play and Jeter went to second as if it were a ground ball and he were going to make a play. Kipnis didn’t realize the ball was in the air, and Wheeler threw him out at first. “That’s an outstanding play,” Girardi said. “That’s the importance of picking up the baseball when you’re stealing instead of counting on somebody else or counting on a coach. You have to find the baseball as a baserunner.”
• Francisco Cervelli is fine after being hit by a pitch in the second. Looked kind of bad at the time.
• Final word goes to Girardi talking about Greene: “Pretty good. For six innings, to do what he did, he gave up four hits. I think they hit one ball hard, the home run, then he had command for most of the night. I thought Cervy throwing out the base runner pretty early was probably helpful for him, just to kind of let him relax. Us getting some runs early helped as well, and he just went to work. He was really, really good.”
Associated Press photos