The Yankees didn’t know who was starting tonight’s game until a few hours before first pitch, and that would be a reason to panic at any other point of the season. Before Game 162 though, with everything clinched and a clubhouse full of September call-ups, it was no big deal. Dellin Betances, who last started a game 23 days ago, gets the nod six days after walking four and hitting one of the seven batters he faced in his big league debut against these same Rays.
“I was mostly throwing the ball instead of pitching,” said Betances of his debut, “and that’s one of the things that hurt me. I’m just glad to get the first one out of the way, and I hope that I get the chance to pitch one more time and redeem myself from this one.”
The Yankees aren’t going to ask the 23-year-old right-hander from Washington Heights to pitch deep into the game, frankly I’d be surprised if he threw more than two innings. Hopefully the nerves are a non-issue tonight and the kid shows why the Yankees gave him a million bucks as an eighth round pick in 2006. Phil Hughes, Boone Logan, and Luis Ayala are likely to get into the game at some point, their final tune-ups before the ALDS starts on Friday. Triple-A arms will handle the rest of the game.
- A close approximation of the A-lineup is starting tonight, but don’t expect those guys to play all nine innings. Derek Jeter will be hitting exactly .300 if gets a hit in first at-bat (.2996 to be exact, but hooray for rounding up!), so he might not stick around to bat a second time. The other guys figure to get two or three plate appearances before giving way to the kids.
- I took the video above about four hours before first pitch, mostly out of boredom. It’s Robinson Cano doing that screen drill with hitting coach Kevin Long, with a screen stretched across home plate. The idea is to swing the bat and not hit the screen, and it’s supposed to help him keep his hands in and pull the ball for power. You can hear the crack of the bat, then a few seconds later the thud of the ball hitting the seats.
- Alex Rodriguez did the same drill after Cano, though Long spent a lot more time giving him instruction than he did Robbie. Two days ago we heard they were working on A-Rod’s leg kick and timing. Alex may not be hitting all that much right now, but it’s not because of a lack of effort.
- CC Sabathia played catch with (I think) bullpen coach Mike Harkey before batting practice, I’d say about 15 minutes worth. Nothing crazy, just the usual between start stuff.