The Yankees will take this formula every time -- solid outing by the starter, a key hit here and there, get the ball to the bullpen.
Thursday it was Joba Chamberlain getting it to Rafael Soriano, who gave way to Mariano Rivera. Other days it might be David Robertson or Boone Logan and, the Yankees hope, in a few weeks Pedro Feliciano.
Scouts talked all spring about the Yankees having, on paper, the best bullpen in baseball and it looked pretty good in Thursday's 6-3 victory over the Tigers. Chamberlain, Soriano and Rivera retired nine straight Tigers, with each reliever striking out a batter.
“It was as scripted,” Derek Jeter said. "CC pitched a great game for us and then we went to our bullpen. We like our chances when we’re late in the game, in close games, because those guys are capable of shutting guys out.”
Said Sabathia: "“It [the bullpen] really is one of the strengths, maybe the strongest part of our team. “You saw that today.”
Soriano, whose ability to fit in on the team has been much discussed, pitched an efficient eighth, needing 14 pitches. Soriano afterward talked about clearing the air in a spring training meeting with GM Brian Cashman, who was on record as being opposed to the reliever's signing.
"He's capable of doing that," Rivera said of Soriano, who set up the closer's 560th career save.
All in all, Joe Girardi couldn't have come away more pleased.
“We talked about our bullpen could play a huge role for us this year and it did today,” Girardi said. “We get three scoreless innings out of them with Joba, Soriano and Rivera. And we’re going to need that…it was great to see the way we did it. Tex have a three-run homer, a big homer by Grandy, you get six innings from you starter, then bam-bam you go to your bullpen. It works out nice. It’s how you draw it up.”