Cool. Collected. Aggressive.
Those are the three words Yankee reliever Boone Logan associates with his pitching mentality every time he is sent back down to Triple-A. They are three words that surface for Logan, quite simply, because he is comfortable at the Triple-A level. More than comfortable. Comfortable enough to bring a Bronx brashness and bravado whenever he makes the 120-mile drive back to Scranton.
“It’s funny. Everytime I go to Triple-A (1.92 ERA in 13.2 innings pitched), I don’t expect to give up any hits to any hitters,” Logan said in the Yankees clubhouse prior to last nights 7-1 loss to the Phillies. “I have that kind of an attitude. At times it does happen. But that’s the attitude I have down there.”
To the 25-year-old Logan, it’s not cockiness. Just confidence.
But for Logan and the Yankees, that confidence failed to translate into success at the big-league level for the majority of the first half of the season. Through 13 relief appearances with the Yankees (41-25) this year -- prior to being called up on Tuesday for his second time this season after Sergio Mitre was put on the 15-day disabled list -- Logan posted a 5.06 ERA in 10.2 innings pitched. Pedestrian numbers for a somewhat forgotten part of the Yankee’s Dec. 22 trade for Melky Cabrera. Logan was the second piece to the Cabrera puzzle along with his best friend on the Yankees, and tonight’s starter against the Mets (38-28) in the opener of a three game subway series set at Yankee Stadium (7:05, My 9): Javier Vazquez.
But then came Wednesday night. A night against the Met’s NL East rival and the defending national league champion (but then-reeling) Philadelphia Phillies, where Logan’s performance mirrored his Triple-A attitude more than his Major League numbers.
Logan entered the game in the fourth inning after Yankee starter A.J. Burnett relinquished six earned runs in 3.1 innings pitched. And, he faced the heart of the Phillies order. Boone followed the boos for Burnett with flawless pitching, as he worked the Yankees out of a first-and-third jam, by striking out the first batter he faced, Ryan Howard, swinging. Logan then walked Jayson Werth intentionally to load the bases, and got Raul Ibanez to ground out to end the inning.
“Just confidence, believing in my stuff,” Logan said was the main reason for the no-hit performance. “The reason I was sent down was to get more aggressive with hitters and trust my stuff. It was really just trust my stuff.”
For the next two innings he fully trusted his stuff. Stuff on Wednesday night that he said he knew was lights out shortly after he started warming in the bullpen. Thanks to it, he had kept the Yankees in a game they maybe shouldn’t have been close to staying in as they trailed 6-2 in the seventh (the Yankees eventually lost 6-3). In a flash, he had put together his longest major league outing since April 25, 2007, when he was with the Chicago White Sox – a three inning effort against Detroit. And… he didn’t give up a single hit. Two and one third innings of hitless ball. He didn’t give up a hit to any major league hitters on this night.
So much for that cocky attitude about minor leaguers on the drive west back to Scranton. How about the drive east?
Well, maybe that mindset wasn’t one of complete confidence. On that rushed reverse-ride on Tuesday, it was a mentality of “no biggie” for the veteran from San Antonio.
“I got called up over here a couple of days ago from Scranton and just drove over here,” Logan said. “I figured I was coming in with all of the (Phillies) lefties. I had the freshest arm, I figured I was going in. But, no big thing.”
The mentality paid off just over 24 hours later on Wednesday. And the mentality worked the last time Logan was with the Yankees on May 23 (he would be sent back down to Scranton/Wilkes Barre just three days later). On that night Logan came in for a solid one-hit inning of relief against Vazquez’s opponent tonight -- and what could be his too -- in the Mets.
Whatever happens in the opener, though, Logan said he will be ready. Heck, he said he was ready yesterday afternoon less than 24 hours after his best big league performance in three years. An outing he coupled with Yankee pitcher Chad Gaudin – the reliever who on May 26 Logan was originally sent down to Triple-A to make room for after the Yankees last series versus the Mets – to provide the Bomber offense with 5 2/3 no-hit innings.
“We have guys who can go multiple innings down there,” Yankee manager Joe Girardi said Thursday. “You look at Chad and you look at Boone… I mean, our bullpen’s OK.”
With the Mets looming again, the only question is if that disposition normally reserved for I-95 West stays in the Bronx. For if it remains east, so may Logan.
“Personally, I feel like I could have gone out there to finish the game with the way my arm was feeling,” Logan said. “I feel a little sore, but it’s a good soreness.