The Yankees merely expect length from the back end of their rotation, so in that sense, Chase Whitley did what Adam Warren could not Friday night by pitching into the sixth inning against the Orioles Saturday.
That ends the positive spin on Whitley, who gave up three home runs and five earned runs in 52/3 innings as the Orioles won, 6-2. The Yankees won Warren's start, though he didn't get the decision by failing to get out of the fifth inning.
Joe Girardi said of Whitley: "He just made some mistakes and they're a club that hit the ball out of the ballpark. I think I looked up and they had four hits and they had four runs and three of them were home runs . . . So when he made a mistake, they made him pay.''
Whitley did not allow a home run in 17 innings at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes Barre and 12 innings at the big-league level since April 28, when he replaced Masahiro Tanaka in the rotation.
Whitley had a nice beginning, allowing a single and striking out five until Jimmy Paredes came up with two out in the third and drilled Whitley's first pitch into the rightfield stands for his fifth home run. "That first one Paredes hit, hopefully that fan's hand is OK,'' Whitley said, playfully mocking himself. "He hit that one pretty well.''
In the fourth, Chris Davis, also swinging at the first pitch, found the rightfield stands for his seventh homer. "He's bound to hit one, he's been scuffling a little bit,'' Whitley said. "He hit a good first-pitch fastball. Those are going to get hit sometimes.''
Whitley then hit Steve Pearce near the back of his belt and after J.J. Hardy flied out, Alejandro De Aza smacked a pitch to right for his third homer and the Orioles had a 4-0 lead. "The one that De Aza hit I felt like [it was] a pretty good pitch,'' Whitley said. "A pitch I wanted to throw and he just hit it. That's going to happen sometimes.''
Whitley was asked how he felt about falling victim to the Stadium's home run-friendly rightfield. "Thing is, I got to get those balls down,'' he said. "They're probably home runs anywhere else. You go to make your pitches and get it down.''
Whitley (1-1, 3.06 ERA) entered the game having allowed one earned run in 12 innings in his first two starts. For followers of such things, Whitley might have had the early lead of remaining in the rotation over Warren when Tanaka returns. Now it would seem that unannounced competition continues. There is no immediate decision with Tanaka's return date uncertain.
Girardi saw nothing alarming about Whitley's start, saying: "He was just a little bit off today. Pitchers aren't going to be perfect, they're going to make some mistakes. Sometimes you get away with it, sometimes you don't.''