Betances slams door shut at Fenway Park
Remember all those reports during spring training about Dellin Betances, that his velocity and location had abandoned him and that just perhaps despite his lights-out rookie season last year he may not be able to help the Yankees survive after the departure of David Robertson?
All that is now a matter of ancient history.
Betances finished off the Yankees’ 4-2 victory over the Red Sox Saturday with a flourish. He entered the game with two outs in the eighth inning with the potential tying run on first base and struck out Mike Napoli. In the ninth, after Chris Young’s sixth home run of the season had boosted the Yankees’ lead to 4-2, Betances proceeded to strike out the side.
Four batters, four strikeouts, and with all that Betances’ first save of the season. The performance may also have a carryover effect in that it spared the use of closer Andrew Miller (nine saves), who is now eligible to come out of the pen Sunday night as the Yanks hope to complete a three-game sweep at Fenway Park.
As it is, the Yankees have won five straight series after coming out of the game and losing their first three series. Since that 3-6 start, the Yankees have won 12 of 15 games since April 17 and sit along atop the American League East.
Saturday’s victory also included yet another quality start from a rotation that suffered a huge blow earlier in the week with Masahiro Tanaka being placed on the 15-day disabled list due to a right forearm strain that is expected to keep him sidelined for at least a month.
Nathan Eovaldi stepped up Saturday and pitched two outs into the seventh inning in raising his record to 2-0. He gave up two runs and seven hits but only one walk with two strikeouts. Brett Gardner supplied the run support for Eovaldi with an RBI double in the third inning and a two-out, two-run single in the fifth off Wade Miley (1-3).
Young’s home run in the ninth was off reliever Alexi Ogando. Young keeps pushing himself into the Yankees’ mix. With a homer and a double Saturday, Young lifted his slugging percentage to .698. His OPS (a combination of slugging percentage and on-base percentage) is over 1.000.
Wanting to stay away from Miller despite the tightness of the score, Yankees manager Joe Girardi used Chris Martin and Justin Wilson in the seventh and eighth before calling on Betances, who could not have done better than to punch out the four batters he faced.
The 6-foot-8 righthander has not allowed an earned run this year in 14 2/3 innings, the most among relievers with ERAs of 0.00. Miller is right behind him with 12 1/3 innings. Betances, who has given up six hits and eight walks with 25 strikeouts, has struck out 14 of the past 20 batters to face him and 17 of the past 25.
Thanks to Betances’ efficiency, Miller is poised to be ready if need be to close the door Sunday night in the finale of a series in which Yankees pitching has held Boston to four runs in 18 innings in its hitters’ paradise.