Since getting home from Boston, the Yankees have won four of five at Yankee Stadium, and each of those wins was started by a pitcher who wasn’t on the roster at the beginning of July. First it was Brandon McCarthy, then Chris Capuano, then Shane Greene, and now Esmil Rogers — a mix of youth and experience, familiar names and off-the-radar acquisitions.
This is not remotely the rotation the Yankees planned, but it’s working.
“It was the reason we went and got these guys because we felt that they could help us,” Joe Girardi said. “They’ve pitched extremely well. I’m not sure any of us knew exactly what to expect, but if you look at since the All-Star break, we’ve had a chance to win every game and that’s because of them.”
Rogers is arguably the least likely of the bunch. Cast out of the Blue Jays bullpen early this season, he’d been toiling in Triple-A for months when the Yankees grabbed him off waivers at the trade deadline. He was supposed to be a long man, but when David Phelps became the fifth Yankees starter to land on the disabled list — they have yet to get one back — Rogers was asked to make his first big league start since September of 2013.
He went five innings with one run, and even that was nearly avoided before a two-out single in the first inning.
“I didn’t have all my confidence (in Toronto) like I have it right now in all my pitches,” Rogers said. “My slider and my curveball, changeup and splitter too, and the sinker is unbelievable right now. So i think the key is pounding the zone right now.”
With Michael Pineda making a minor league rehab start tonight in Triple-A, and seeming available to come off the disabled list in five days if necessary, the Yankees now face a decision of whether to have Rogers start again or activate Pineda next turn through the rotation.
At the very least Rogers must have given the Yankees some confidence if they would rather stick with the original plan and let Pineda make one more minor league start.
“I think there’s a lot of things that are tied together here that we’re going to have to try to unwrap to see what we do next,” Girardi said.
• Brian McCann left tonight’s game with a mild concussion, but Girardi said he’s still not sure whether McCann will land on the seven-day disabled list. It will depend on tests tomorrow morning. “I think they evaluate him the next day to see what the doctors determine,” Girardi said.
• For whatever it’s worth, McCann didn’t want to leave tonight’s game. He stayed in after taking a foul tip in the third inning — “He (initially) felt like his jaw got jammed,” Girardi said — but after the top of the sixth, McCann told Girardi that he didn’t feel quite right. “I asked him, ‘Are you dizzy?'” Girardi said. “He said, no. I said, ‘Are you sick to your stomach?’ He said, no. He said, ‘I just don’t feel quite right.’ I said, ‘Do you feel a little foggy?’ (He said), yes. … He didn’t want to come out, but I said, you’re out.”
• Pineda’s final line in tonight’s Triple-A rehab start: 4.1 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 7 K. He threw 72 pitches. He told Donnie Collins that he feels ready to return to the big leagues.
• More from Donnie Collins: “Pineda really only gave up two hard-hit balls. (Double) by Walters in the first, and (single) by Aguilar in third. Change, fastball up, respectively.” Donnie says that Pineda’s fastball was 92-94 mph.
• Rogers has pitched for the Yankees three times and he has two wins. He threw 88 pitches tonight, and Girardi said he might have gone longer had he not pitched in Tuesday’s game. Certainly suggests he would be at least cleared for 100 pitches if the Yankees choose to send him out in five days. “I just wasn’t sure how much he would be able to give us, and I think we were pretty conscious of watching his stuff continue to be sharp as his pitch count mounted,” Girardi said. “He did a great job.”
• Carlos Beltran hit the 11th grand slam of his career in the sixth inning. It was his first grand slam since 2012. “You want to at least get the job done and get one in,” Beltran said. “I faced John Axford many times in the National League so I guess I have maybe like one hit against him. He felt that it was the right matchup for me. I was able to put a good at-bat and come through for the team.”
• This was the Yankees second grand slam of the year. Brett Gardner also hit one. Beltran had two hits and has been excellent since the All-Star break.
• Another milestone for Derek Jeter. Tonight’s first-inning single was the 3,430th of his career, tying Honus Wagner for sixth place on baseball’s all-time hits list. Honus Wagner! That’s insane. “Big names,” Girardi said. “I mean really big names, and it’s been fun to watch him go through it this season.”
• Ichiro Suzuki collected his 2,810th big league hit, tying George Sisler for 48th on baseball’s all-time hits list. Ichiro also had his first multi-steal game since June 15 of last year.
• This was the fourth time the Yankees scored at least 10 runs this season. This was the first time since 2012 that they scored five runs in more than one inning.
• In those two five-run innings, the Yankees had a total of just six hits. Took advantage of a bunch of walks tonight.
• The Yankees had a losing home record in the first half of the season, but they’ve won 11 of 15 at home since the All-Star break. “I did expect it to even out because we feel our lineup is built for this field, our ballpark,” Girardi said. “So you did expect it to even out. When I talked about coming into the second half (I said) we need to play better at home, and we have.”
• Final word to Beltran: “I think the team has been doing the job, trying to add players that can make the ballclub better offensively and defensively. We had a lot of downs with our starting rotation and things like that, but at the end of the day we need to find a way to do it with what we’ve got.”
Associated Press photos