Yankees’ starting pitcher Chase Whitley finally got that elusive first win of his career on Friday night at Kauffman Stadium against the Kansas City Royals. Whitley went seven strong innings, dominating the anemic Royals’ offense. He struck out three while allowing just two runs on five hits. The Royals helped the young 24-year-old right-hander out, repeatedly swinging early in the count which helped keep Whitley’s pitch count down. With a low pitch count Whitley was able to pitch a career high seven innings in the ball game.
Offensively the Yankees were paced by the top of the order duo of Jacoby Ellsbury and Brett Gardner. Ellsbury extended his hitting streak to eleven games, tying Derek Jeter for the longest Yankee streak this season. Gardner added two hits of his own. Struggling catcher Brian McCann had the big hit, a three-run based loaded double in the third that broke a 1-1 tie.
Whitley followed by Dellin Betances and David Robertson made the lead stick and the Yankees came away with the victory in game one of this four game series. Betances added another two strikeouts to his season total in the eighth. The Yankees’ bullpen leads the majors with 266 strikeouts entering the game. The bullpen has been severely taxed all season and struggled in the recent disaster of a homestand in which the Bombers went 2-5 and were outscored 37-16. One of the biggest concerns giving rise to the recent bullpen issues has been the starters failure to pitch deep into games. Even ace Masahiro Tanaka went just six inning in his last start against Oakland. Whitley’s ability to go seven, instead of his usual five, allowed the bullpen to get a much deserved breather at the outset of a ten game road trip.
The Yankees and Royals will meet again in a Saturday night game in the Paris of the Plains for Game 2. David Phelps (1-3, 4.11 ERA) will face off against lefty Danny Duffy (3-5, 3.05 EA). Derek Jeter, who sat out tonight, will be back in the lineup as the Bomber try to win their third straight.