Really, does it matter whom the Yankees send to the mound to start games?
Doesn't seem to.
Esmil Rogers was the latest rotation fill-in to pitch well as the Yankees defeated the Indians, 10-6, Friday night at the Stadium.
Rogers, an under-the-radar waiver claim pickup from the Blue Jays on July 31, allowed one run and four hits in five innings. That followed a series against Detroit in which Yankees starters -- including newcomers Brandon McCarthy, Chris Capuano and Shane Greene -- gave up three earned runs in 271/3 innings.
"There's a reason we went out and got these guys, because we felt that they could help us," Joe Girardi said of the newbies. "Since the All-Star break, we've had a chance to win every game, and that's because of them."
The game was highlighted by Derek Jeter tying Honus Wagner for sixth on the all-time hits list with an infield single in a five-run first and Carlos Beltran's grand slam in a five-run sixth.
There was one potential dark cloud, though: Catcher Brian McCann was removed in the sixth inning, diagnosed with what the Yankees called a "mild concussion" after taking a foul ball off his mask in the third. Girardi said he did not yet know if it will be necessary to put McCann on the seven-day concussion disabled list, but it seems likely.
"He said, 'I just don't feel quite right,' " Girardi said, later adding that he asked the catcher if he felt "foggy" and that McCann agreed with the characterization. "There's concern. That's why I took him out."
The Yankees (61-54) improved to a season-best seven games over .500 and are 14-7 since the All-Star break, though they remain five games behind the AL East-leading Orioles. They are a half-game behind the Royals for the second wild card.
Rogers, making his first start since Sept. 25, 2013, became the 20th Yankees pitcher to earn at least one victory this season -- the most in the majors -- and the 12th pitcher to start for them.
He had a 6.97 ERA in 16 relief appearances before Toronto designated him for assignment July 27. Since he arrived with the Yankees, Rogers and pitching coach Larry Rothschild have worked on minor mechanical adjustments, such as lengthening his stride, that have paid off.
"I think my confidence is high right now," he said. "All my pitches, my slider, curveball, changeup, and my sinker is unbelievable right now. I think the key is I'm pounding the zone right now."
After the Indians took a 1-0 lead, the Yankees sent 10 to the plate against an erratic Trevor Bauer, who threw 44 pitches in the bottom of the first inning.
With one out, Jeter sent a grounder up the middle that shortstop Jose Ramirez fielded going toward the second-base bag. His throw made first baseman Carlos Santana stretch, and in doing so, he dropped the ball. A generous ruling gave Jeter an infield single and career hit No. 3,430, tying him with Wagner. He scored on Beltran's single.
The Yankees batted around for the second time in the game in the sixth, making it 10-2.
John Axford walked Ichiro Suzuki and Brett Gardner to start the inning and, after Jeter's sacrifice bunt, the Indians intentionally walked Jacoby Ellsbury to get to Beltran (five RBIs). He fell behind 1-and-2 before driving a curveball into the seats in right for his 14th homer of the season and 11th career grand slam.
Was he thinking homer? "Of course not," he said with a smile. "I'm thinking to try and bring one in. Thank God I was able to put good contact on that ball. It's a great feeling every time you can contribute to a win."