Rookies get major league firsts at start & finish

The Yankees helped relieve some of the pressure on Shane Greene making his first major league start Monday night at Cleveland by knocking out Indians starter Justin Masterson two batters into the third inning en route to building a 5-0 lead.

Masterson usually has his way with the Yankees at Progressive Field. He took a 3-0 record and 0.38 ERA in three career starts against the Yanks in the Tribe’s home yard into the game. He was nowhere close to that effective Monday night as the Yankees chased him with five runs, six hits, three walks and a hit batter in two-plus innings.

Brian McCann, who originally was supposed to catch Greene, was the designated hitter instead as Carlos Beltran was removed from the lineup because of a swollen right knee. Greene did just fine with backup Francisco Cervelli behind the plate. McCann did just fine with the bat, too, banging out a double and two singles and scoring two runs, a good sign to see.

Brett Gardner and Ichiro Suzuki joined McCann in the hit parade with three apiece as well. It was the second straight three-hit game for Ichiro, who raised his season batting average to .304.

The Yankees could not have asked for a better first outing from Greene, who was with them earlier in the year and pitched a third of an inning in relief. This time, he went a full six innings and did not allow a hit until two out in the fifth when Nick Swisher broke up the no-hit bid and the shutout at the same time with his sixth home run. Greene was touched for another run in the sixth

Greene was not overpowering. He had only two strikeouts, both coming in the fifth inning, but did not walk anyone, either. He hit one batter, Asdrubal Cabrera, who was eventually caught trying to steal second base. Greene got 11 of his 18 outs in the infield, nine on ground balls.

David Huff worked a 1-2-3 seventh but gave up a home run to Yan Gomes leading off the eighth. Dellin Betances celebrated his being named to the American League All-Star squad by getting the final six outs to record his first major-league save to preserve Greene’s first major-league victory.

Betances got a major assist from shortstop Derek Jeter to get out of the eighth inning without damage. Jason Kipnis, on first base because of an error by second baseman Brian Roberts, fell victim to Jeter’s pretending to take a throw at second on a hit-and-run play, and was embarrassingly doubled up on Cabrera’s foul pop behind third base.

The Yankees are 26-15 in games started by rookies. With the state of the rotation uncertain for much of the period before the All-Star break, the young people stepping up has been huge.

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