Phelps, bullpen help Yankees beat Astros

05/02/2013 12:05 AM ET
By Lou DiPietro

David Robertson pitched a scoreless eighth inning with two strikeouts Wednesday night.(AP)
The Yankees got another series victory on Wednesday night, topping the Houston Astros, 5-4, in a game that was, at least for the pitchers, a tale of three thirds.

David Phelps was brilliant for the first three innings, allowing just one hit and pitching to the minimum, but he lost his way in the fourth; Houston batted around thanks to four hits and two hit batsmen, and Phelps threw 30 pitches in a four-run inning that evaporated the Yankees’ early lead.

“I felt like I was still making decent pitches; I hit a couple guys which didn’t help, but it was weird, because I felt in the first three innings I had the best control I had all year, but I went out of the stretch in the fourth and lost it for a bit and it snowballed,” Phelps said. “(Overall) I threw alright, but I’m really happy we won that game because the fourth inning killed a lot of momentum we built up and I have to do better than that.”

Phelps then had another inning that could have been rocky in the fifth, but he picked off Jose Altuve at first for the second out, got out of a two-on, two-out jam by getting Chris Carter to tap back to the mound, and then got two outs in the fifth to shorten the bullpen just a little bit more.

“He just had some bad luck, obviously he hit a couple guys but outside of that he made his pitches,” said catcher Chris Stewart after the game. “It happens, but he came out the next inning and threw well again.”

Overall, Joe Girardi thought Phelps pitched well, and he praised how his young hurler rebounded in the fifth.

“I don’t think he was hit hard; I thought the mistakes he made was he hit people (and) those are the situations you don't want to get in. We encourage our guys to pitch inside, but we can't hit people and give them free baserunners,” Girardi said. “I think he's disappointed because he gave up those four runs, and it wasn't like they squared a lot of balls up in that inning. It was kind of like a broken bat here, a well-placed ball here, another well placed ball, Nunie almost gets to the other ball and those things are going to happen. You've got to be able to turn the page, and he did.”

Once the bullpen took over, it was lights out. Boone Logan, who got the win, teamed with David Robertson and Mariano Rivera to throw 3 1/3 innings of scoreless relief, allowing just two hits that were both erased on double plays.

“They did a great job, and that’s important,” Girardi said. “In the American League, and in this division, your bullpen has to be a strong point for you, and they’ve done a great job.”

After Logan retired four batters, David Robertson pitched a 1-2-3 eighth with two strikeouts, but appeared to come up limping at the end of the inning. Robertson later said that he felt perhaps a little tweak in his leg, but left to get iced immediately and was feeling much better in the clubhouse.

“I just felt some discomfort in what I thought was my left knee, but I think it’s just my hamstrings. They felt a little tight and felt like I may have tweaked something a little bit when I turned to break for first,” Robertson said. “I don’t feel it right now, it was just a little sore when I got in the dugout, so I immediately went to get some ice on it and keep it from getting flamed up.”

Mariano Rivera pitched the ninth for his 11th save in 11 chances, and at age 43, he continues to impress even those who have been with him or around him for a while now.

“Coming off major surgery, to be even on the mound to begin with, let alone closing out ballgames for us, is huge,” Stewart said of his closer. “I can’t say anything more than that, because we know when he’s coming in, we’re probably going to get a win.”

In the end, it was another win for the Yankees, who are now 17-10 and have won six of their last seven series after starting 1-4, and Robertson summed up the thoughts of the team in one fell swoop.

“We pulled together and got a nice win today. It was a tough ballgame, and anytime you win a one-run ballgame, it’s good for the team.”

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