Pitchers rarely have innings like the one Dellin Betances had in the eighth Monday, walking the bases loaded but striking out the side, all without a ball being put in play.
He came on with an 8-5 lead, got ahead of Chris Davis 0-and-2 and then threw eight straight balls to Davis and Jimmy Paredes to put runners on first and second. Then he struck out Jonathan Schoop and Nolan Reimold on six pitches and walked Ryan Flaherty on four pitches to load the bases. After getting ahead of Caleb Joseph 0-and-2, he struck out Joseph on seven pitches, the final one a hanging curveball down the middle. A frustrated Joseph snapped the bat over his knee.
"I felt good in the bullpen. I was throwing a lot of strikes in the bullpen," Betances said. "I guess next time I'll try not to throw as many strikes in the bullpen. But I felt good to Chris Davis. I was frustrated after I walked him and had him 0-2 and I kind of let that get to my head a little bit."
Catcher John Ryan Murphy wasn't surprised to see Betances get out of it. "As quickly as he got himself into trouble, he can just as quickly get himself out of trouble," he said. "That's just the kind of guy he is."
Betances threw 30 pitches in 11/3 innings Sunday and another 27 Monday. Joe Girardi all but ruled him out of Tuesday night's game, and Betances didn't dispute that he could use a day off.
"I always seem to find a way to make the fans a little nervous," he said with a smile. "I'm just glad we were able to win. But I have to be better than that, obviously."
I'll take the ball
Masahiro Tanaka, Tuesday night's scheduled starter, said he would welcome the pressure that would come with being called on to start a one-game wild-card playoff game. "I think that any starting pitcher would like to pitch on such a big occasion," he said through his translator. "I think the important thing is to get yourself ready in the case of pitching in such a big game."