It was patchwork, but it was good enough work by opener Chad Green and three other Yankees pitchers.
The Yankees’ offense helped make sure of that, but on a day when they were short in the bullpen, an unlikely lineup of Green, Nestor Cortes Jr., Adam Ottavino and Chance Adams teamed up to throw nine innings and come out on top Sunday in a 13-5 win over the Rays.
“As many runs and hits as we had, I thought the guys that did a great job were those guys in the bullpen, coming in and giving us some length,” Brett Gardner said.
Trying to fill James Paxton’s spot in the rotation for at least one more turn, the Yankees tabbed Green as their starter against the team that made openers trendy across the league last year. A former starter himself, Green was not a fish out of water as all three of his outings in his recent stint at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre came as an opener. He also tried it in spring training.
Green nearly made it through two innings without harm before giving up back-to-back home runs to Kevin Kiermaier and Willy Adames with two outs in the second. He then hit Daniel Robertson in the helmet, ending the pitcher’s day.
“The wheels kind of came off there with two outs, but that’s just not executing pitches when I need to,” Green said. “It’s just location. Overall, I felt OK.”
Since coming back from Triple-A last Sunday, Green has given up three earned runs on six hits and a walk over three innings while striking out four.
“Green wasn’t perfect today but gave us enough,” Aaron Boone said.
In his second appearance in pinstripes, Cortes gave up a three-run homer in the third inning before settling down to last four innings. He was then bailed out by Ottavino, who left the bases loaded in the sixth inning with a big strikeout of Austin Meadows.
Adams took care of the rest, securing the save with three scoreless innings in his Yankee Stadium debut. After the game, he was optioned to Triple-A to get the Yankees another fresh arm for Monday’s game in Baltimore.
While Paxton may be able to return to the rotation later in the week, Boone said “it’s certainly possible” the Yankees could use an opener again down the road. It may work out even better when they have their high-leverage relievers available.
“It was good,” Green said. “It’s throwing a different look at teams. Have a guy come in throw a couple innings and then someone else throw three to four innings to get it to the back of the bullpen. Just a different way to get to your high-end guys in the bullpen. It doesn’t throw off my routine at all.”