Sunday had the potential to be an arduous game for the Yankees pitching staff.
But thanks to more offensive fireworks and a unified effort from five different relievers, the Bombers hurlers avoided disaster in a 14-3 victory over the Orioles at the Stadium.
With Masahiro Tanaka enduring a miserable stretch, the Yankees opted to push the righthander’s start back from Sunday to Monday. The hope is extra rest will help Tanaka correct his sloppy mechanics, but the decision left Joe Girardi in a tough situation.
The Yankees manager announced late Saturday night that Chad Green would start Sunday’s contest. However, the second-year righthander was on a 50-pitch limit because he’s spent the past month coming out of the Yankees bullpen, throwing no more than 3.2 innings in any outing. Green exceeded his limit Sunday with no outs in the third inning, forcing Girardi to get creative earlier than he would have liked.
Green surrendered back-to-back doubles to J.J. Hardy and former Met Ruben Tejada before being pulled. Five of Green’s nine at-bats went to a full count. “Not putting guys away early,” Green said after the game.
Girardi turned to Chasen Shreve with Tejada on second and no outs. The skipper said he considered bringing in rookie Domingo German, whom the Yankees called up in preparation for Sunday’s game. At one point, German was in contention to start the game.
But instead of calling upon German in his first major-league game, Girardi opted instead to pitch his more “experienced” relievers. The Yankees scoring five runs in the opening inning certainly made that choice easier.
Shreve was far from perfect. He allowed two doubles to the next two batters he faced, and two more runs came home. All of a sudden, it was a 5-3 game. But Shreve retired Adam Jones, Mark Trumbo and Chris Davis in order to end the inning. He struck out both Trumbo and Davis.
Jonathan Holder, Adam Warren and German then combined to throw six scoreless innings to close out the win. The trio surrendered just five hits, while Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez and Starlin Castro powered the Bombers with home runs.
“I chose to do it that way, and I was really pleased,” Girardi said of bringing in Shreve over German. “Guys got big outs for us. They really did.”
German entered with one out in the seventh and showed poise in his major-league debut. The Yankees optioned him to Triple-A after the game and re-called righthander Ben Heller.
“The bullpen coach told me to make sure to go out there and attack the hitters,” the 24-year-old Dominican righthander said through a translator. “And that’s what I went and did.”
Warren said the contest almost felt like a spring training affair, because he knew he was going to get in the game — it was just a matter of when.
“It’s just a little bit different,” Warren said. “But I thought our guys did well of handling that anticipation.”
Warren also said the win was just a little bit sweeter because of the all-hands-on-deck effort.
“There’s definitely some pride involved in it,” Warren said. “It was neat for us to come together as a unit and do that.”