Yankees Clubhouse Notebook: Bombers play two, win two with sweep of Cubbies

04/16/2014 11:58 PM ET
By Lou DiPietro

Michael Pineda went six shutout innings to help the Yanks sweet a doubleheader from the Cubs.(AP)
Fourteen scoreless innings, six hits, two walks, 13 strikeouts.

That's what the New York Yankees got out of their starting pitchers in Wednesday's doubleheader, and while Michael Pineda wasn't nearly as dominant in Game 2 as Masahiro Tanaka was in Game 1, Pineda got the job done, and while the offense this time got a little from a lot, they held up their end of the bargain enough to score a 2-0 victory.

"Pineda was really, really good tonight; he had command of all of his pitches, especially his changeup and slider," manager Joe Girardi said. "It wasn't the best conditions tonight, but I thought he did a really good job."

"I felt really good, and my shoulder feels good," Pineda added. "It was cold and it was hard to get a feel on the ball, but you have to make adjustments. I focused on throwing the ball well."

Pineda ended with another quality start, tossing six innings of four-hit shutout ball, and he got himself out of a two-on, no-out jam in the fifth thanks to a big strikeout of Ryan Kalish.

"I told myself that I needed to make a good pitch," he said of that moment. "I pitched the second game today, and I saw what Tanaka did, and I wanted to keep it going."

"He was incredible," catcher John Ryan Murphy added about his starter. "They had a lot of lefties so we got the changeup going early and it was really good, equally as good as his breaking ball. He was ahead of a lot of hitters."

Pineda was lifted after just six innings and 89 pitches, which Joe Girardi attributed to the weather and just plain being careful with a guy who is coming off two seasons lost to a shoulder injury.

"As cold as it was, and I've told you we're going to be somewhat careful with him, so we felt it was time to get him out," the skipper said.

And, as it turns out, any lingering concern there might be about the alleged pine tar situation in Pineda's last start were null and void.

"I think there was a little concern because I haven't had him long enough to know how he responds to certain things; some guys are just really good at moving on, and some will think about it," Girardi said, "but I thought he handled it extremely well, and was ready to go tonight."

"I don't think about things like that. It doesn't bother me. My focus is to be ready every fifth day," Pineda added.

After Pineda, the bullpen had another confidence-boosting performance, with David Phelps getting out of a two-on, no-out jam of his own in the seventh (against the same part of the lineup Pineda faced), Matt Thornton got two big outs, and Adam Warren shut the door with two men on in the ninth for his first save of the season.

"Early on I was just having trouble feeling the release point, so I just tried to slow the game down and make good pitches when I could," Warren said of his ninth. "But I think we feed off each other in the bullpen; we've come together as a family down there, and we've got a chip on our shoulder and we want to come out and do well. We want to keep the train rolling along and you don't want to be the guy that messes it up, so it pushes you."

Murphy, for one, was certainly impressed with what he saw

"From what I saw today, they're coming in with a plan of how to attack the hitters," the backstop said. "It's not easy to sit in the bullpen on a night like tonight and then come out in make pitches, so they did a really good job."

All in all, it adds up to a double shutout, making the Cubs 0-5 all-time in the Bronx and the Yankees 6-0-11 in doubleheaders under Joe Girardi.

"That goes to show you how well all of our pitchers threw today," Girardi said. "It's nice to have; when you shut the other team down for 18 innings, you're doing something right."

And for Pineda, it's a third straight strong start in a season where he has a lot to prove.

"I'm very excited, because it's been two years. My first three games have been good, and I want to continue working hard on the mound."

Some other news and notes from the clubhouse after a doubleheader sweep:

-Scott Sizemore scored the Yankees first run and drove in the second, which was his first RBI since September 27, 2011. Certainly a big day for Sizemore, and the skipper was proud: "I'm sure it was special for him, because he's been through a lot. For him it's a special day, and it was a big hit. Not a lot of runs scored today but he was a big part of it."

-Mark Teixeira will play three innings tomorrow, but Joe Girardi wasn't sure if it would be in Extended Spring Training or for Class-A Tampa (who is at Daytona). Either way, it may be the beginning of the end of the first baseman's absence: "He's right on track for where we want him to be, and Sunday is definitely a possibility."

-Adam Warren on the pitching performance overall: "Our starting pitchers gave us a lot of innings, which is huge in a doubleheader, because it saves your bullpen. The guys in the pen were great as well; anytime we can get two wins it's huge, but to give up no runs makes it even better."

-The Yankees and Cubs did indeed have a 26th man for the second game only, but while Cubs LHP Zac Rosscup pitched the final 1 2/3 innings, Yankees RHP Shane Greene did not see action. With the new rule, if a doubleheader is scheduled within 48 hours of being played, both teams get a 26th man for Game 2 only, but if it's scheduled more than 48 hours in advance, the 26th man is eligible for both ends.

-Last word goes to Girardi, speaking about the confidence he has in his pitching staff right now: "Our rotation was pretty good on the homestand. We had the one hiccup where we gave up a lot of runs, but for the most part they threw the ball extremely well….We're going to Tampa and we have a fairly rested bullpen, and that's because of our starters today. At times our bullpen has been a little bit fatigued because of some of the games we've been in, but I feel pretty good about where our bullpen is going into a big four-game series."

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