(Determined face! Courtesy of The AP)
Well the Yankees finally got to reap the benefits of sending David Phelps back down to the Minors to be stretched out as a starter. It was about 5-6 weeks too late to really be called a benefit, but that's just details. Phelps sais he felt like he was good for 75-90 pitches before the game, and with Derek Lowe as his caddy in the bullpen it probably would have been a solid strategic move for Joe to let Phelps throw that many if he was pitching well. As it turned out, Joe was smart enough to let Phelps pitch as deep as he could AND Lowe ended up pitching big innings well. Who knew??
- It was a shaky beginning for Phelps. Some bad BABIP luck led to a Texas run and a 26-pitch 1st inning for him, and then David Murphy led off the 2nd with a solo HR to right to make it 2-0. That pitch count was coming in a hurry.
- But then Phelps got his Andy Pettitte on and started picking guys off left and right. He got Ian Kinsler at first to end the 2nd inning and Elvis Andrus at second with 2 on and just 1 out in the 3rd.
- It was at that point that the offense finally decided to show up. They loaded the bases with 1 out against Ryan Dempster and then unloaded them on a Nick Swisher grand slam. A walk and a couple more singles and they loaded them up again to push another run across on a Curtis Granderson sac fly.
- From there, Phelps was golden, working the 4th and 5th effortlessly. He found the command of his 4-seamer a little better in those innings and really threw his curveball well. After the start he had, to get through 5 and only give up 2 against that lineup is a job well done.
- The offense didn't stop once Phelps left. Eric Chavez hit a leadoff solo HR in the 6th, showing that the few days off over the weekend didn't cool his hot streak. Then a triple-double-single combo by Ichiro Suzuki, Derek Jeter, and Swish brought in 2 more in the 7th to make it 8-2.
- The story of the night was Derek Lowe. There was reason to be wary of bringing him in with the way he pitched on his way out of Cleveland, but Lowe was money last night. In 4 scoreless innings of work he got 4 groundball outs and 4 strikeouts, and his sinker and slider were both on.
- Whatever he said he figured out before coming back, it sure looked like Lowe knew what he was talking about last night. The Yankees didn't need to use another bullpen arm for the rest of the game and cruised to the finish in the series opener.
- Swisher: 2-5, 1 HR, 1 R, 5 RBI, 1 K. Now that's more of what I think we were all hoping for when Swish got moved back to the 2-spot in the lineup. Congrats on the 200th career HR too. Hitting a grand slam for a milestone homer has to be a cool feeling.
- Phelps: 5 IP, 6 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 3 K, W. It wasn't quite 90 pitches, but give the kid some credit. I didn't think he was going to last very long after those first 7 batters, but Phelps made the adjustments and got the most out of the rest of his pitch count.
- Lowe: 4 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 4 K. And where the hell did THIS GUY come from?!? This was not the Derek Lower that got his candyass cut by the Indians recently. It was BETTER than the version of Lowe that started the season for the Indians. I think he earned whatever the Yankees are paying him just in those 4 innings last night.
- C-Grand: 0-3, 1 RBI, 2 K. Drove in a run but ended up the only guy in the starting lineup to not record a hit. Dude's hitting below .240 now this season.
That was a pretty good start to the series, huh? Let's hope Hiroki Kuroda can tighten up his command a little bit from his last outing and keep this thing going. Having a good showing against the Rangers in a late-season series without CC would be a pretty serious statement by the Yankees.