Chase Whitley went through his first four big league starts without picking up a decision or making it past five innings. He accomplished both of those feats on Friday night, holding the Kansas City Royals to two-runs over seven innings in the Yankees' 4-2 victory over the Royals in the first of a four-game set this weekend at Kauffman Stadium.
The Yankees scored four runs in the first three innings, and didn't manage to get any more runners across the pate for the rest of the game after that, but Whitley and the bullpen made sure that wasn't an issue.
Brian Roberts put the Yankees up 1-0 in the 2nd inning on a two-out single to center field that scored Mark Teixeira, who singled to open the inning then moved over to second base on an Brian McCann groundout.
The Royals, though, tied the game at 1-1 in the bottom half of the 2nd inning on an single off the bat of Salvador Perez following an Alex Gordon double.
The Yankees re-took the lead in the 3rd inning after Jeremy Guthrie loaded the bases with one out. Jacoby Ellsbury and Brett Gardner singled back-to-back to open the frame -- and I want to note that Ellsbury was batting leadoff for the first time in forever with Derek Jeter on the bench tonight, and I really like those two together at the top of the lineup, creating runs with their speed -- then after Carlos Beltran grounded out to move the runners over, Mark Teixeira was hit by a Guthrie pitch to load the bases.
A batter later, McCann slapped a ball the other way into left field, getting all the way into the left field corner for a bases-clearing double, as McCann ended up at third base when the thrown from the cut-off man went to the plate, putting the Yanks up 4-1.. McCann might not be hitting too many homeruns this season, but he sure is going to the opposite field.
Whitley was able to hold that three-run lead for the next couple of innings before the Royals tagged him for one more run in the 5th.
Gordon singled then stole second base to kick off the inning, then two batters later, Lorenzo Cain singled into center field, scoring Gordon to cut the lead to 4-2. Ellsbury threw the ball back into Brendan Ryan around the edge of the infield, and Cain caught Roberts sleeping, taking second with nobody at the bag. It was alright, though, because he didn't score.
Whitley made it through that inning, as well as the 6th and the 7th, finishing his best start as a big league pitcher since being called up back in May. He gave up just the two runs on five hits, striking out three without a walk on 87 pitches.
This was his fifth start this season, and I must say that I really like this kid. He's not the kind of guy that is going to end up as a second of third starter down the road, but I do think he is very quality, and as long as he can start getting past five innings in each start, he can be a very solid No. 4 starter going forward, possibly.
Joe Girardi handed the ball to Dellin Betances to begin the 8th. He struck out the first two batters -- because that's what he does -- then gave up a double to Alcides Escobar before getting a groundout to end the inning.
Betances then gave way to David Robertson, who locked down his 14th save of the season. He put on his best Betances impression by striking out the first two batters, but then put on his best Robertson impression by making the game far more interesting than it should have been. He gave up a double to Billy Butler, then walked Gordon on four pitchers before getting Perez to groundout to Yangervis Solarte to end the game.
The Yankees and Royals will continue this four-game series on Saturday night at 7:15 pm ET with David Phelps and Danny Duffy squaring off in that contest.