Saturday, June 7, 2014

Whitley Chases Down 1st Major League Win

So with another Masahiro Tanaka start in the books as a win, the Yankees went into full "Here comes a sub for an injured starter, there are no atheists in this dugout, let us pray" mode.

There's an old saying: "God answers every prayer, but, sometimes, the answer is 'No.'"

Last night, the answer was "Yes." Chase Whitley is looking like a good prospect, a smack in the face to all those people talking about how the Yankee farm system is "barren." (I wrote a piece on that subject as my first contribution to Last Word On Sports.)

In the opener of a 3-game series away to the Kansas City Royals -- thankfully, not the Royals of 1977, or 1980, or 1985 -- Whitley went 7 innings, allowing just 2 runs on 5 hits and, thankfully -- say these beautiful words with me -- no walks. A very nice performance that should earn him a spot in the rotation for the rest of the season, given that Ivan Nova is out for the year, and David Phelps hasn't exactly been an answer.

But would it be enough? The way the Yankees have been hitting this season, it could very well have not been. Even Tanaka got only 2 runs of support on Thursday afternoon.

Mark Teixeira led off the top of the 2nd inning with a single. After Brian McCann grounded out, Yangervis Solarte drew a walk. Ichiro Suzuki hit a line drive that was caught, but Brian Roberts singled Teix home.

The Royals tied the game in the bottom of the 2nd, but the Yanks struck right back in the top of the 3rd. The inning began with back-to-back singles by Jacoby Ellsbury and Brett Gardner. Carlos Beltran returned to the lineup after an injury, and to Kansas City where he played his first 7 major league seasons, becoming the closest thing they've had to a Hall-of-Famer since George Brett retired. He grounded out to move the runners over.

Royals starter Jeremy Guthrie may have been rattled, because he hit Teix with a pitch. I'm presuming it wasn't intentional, because no pitcher wants to load the bases with 1 out, even with a slowpoke like McCann coming up next. McCann doubled down the left-field line, clearing the bases.

That was all the Yankees needed: Whitley allowed a run in the 5th, but otherwise cruised. Dellin Betances pitched a strong 8th, and David Robertson allowed a double and a walk with 2 out in the 9th, but got a force-play grounder to end it.

Yankees 4, Royals 2. WP: Whitley (1-0). SV: Robertson (14). LP: Guthrie (2-6).

It was Whitley's first major league win in 5 starts -- although it didn't help that Joe Girardi was reluctant to let him go more than 5 innings until last night. The Yankees have now won 4 of his 5 starts, and the one loss (June 1 vs. Minnesota) was hardly Whitley's fault, as he allowed just 1 run in 5 innings. Well done to the righthander from Alabama, who turns 25 next Saturday.

The series continues tonight, with a 7:15 PM (Eastern Time, 6:15 Central/local) start. Danny Duffy starts for the Royals, and for the Yankees... Phelps. Oy vey.

Let us pray:

Our Babe, who art in Gate of Heaven Cemetery, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom demolished to make way for the new one, but thy will be done, on the road as it is in The Bronx. Give us this day our daily win, and forgive us our losses, as we forgive those who defeat us. And lead us not into the temptations that befell thee, and deliver us from Red Sox, for thine is the kingdom, and the power hitting, and the glory forever. Amen.

Hey, they call 'em "the baseball gods" sometimes, don't they?

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