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Unheralded Esmil Rogers opens some eyes with three scoreless innings

The Yankees' Esmil Rogers delivers a pitch against

The Yankees' Esmil Rogers delivers a pitch against the Boston Red Sox in the seventh inning of a game, in Boston, Sunday, Aug. 3, 2014. Credit: AP / Steven Senne

BOSTON - It was the least noticed, discussed and debated of the Yankees' three transactions at Thursday's non-waiver trade deadline:

"The Yankees claimed righthander Esmil Rogers off waivers from the Toronto Blue Jays."

While trade acquisitions Stephen Drew and Martin Prado got the headlines, Rogers also joined the Yankees on Friday at Fenway Park. The 28-year-old settled into a locker and took his place in the bullpen wearing uniform No. 53, but for two days he was just a spectator.

That all changed Sunday night when Rogers made his Yankees debut in the fifth inning of what had been an offensive game in many ways. It was 7-7 at the time.

Unexpectedly, Rogers restored order, throwing three scoreless, hitless innings with one walk and three strikeouts. Brett Gardner's solo home run in the sixth inning gave the Yankees the lead and made Rogers the pitcher of record. At the end of the long night, the Yankees and Rogers had an 8-7 victory.

The pitcher whom general manager Brian Cashman added as almost an afterthought on Deadline Day was anything but that after David Phelps and Chase Whitley proved ineffective in the game's first four innings.

Phelps allowed five runs in two innings before leaving with elbow inflammation. Whitley gave up two runs in two innings, allowing a long two-out, two-run homer to centerfield by David Ortiz in the fourth that gave the Red Sox a 7-4 lead.

"He kind of got us a bridge to where we wanted to get," manager Joe Girardi said of Rogers, whom he named as a potential replacement for Phelps if the righthander needs to miss a start, which sounds likely. "He did a tremendous job."

"I think my fastball command was the key for tonight," said Rogers, who admitted to feeling "butterflies" in the bullpen.

Rogers had no record and a 6.97 ERA in 16 appearances with Toronto. Since 2009, he also has appeared in the majors with Colorado and Cleveland. His career mark before Sunday was 16-21, 5.59 in 174 games (42 starts).

Rogers became the 29th pitcher to appear for the Yankees this season, which is a franchise record they would have preferred not to set. He also was the 50th player.

"I'm here for whatever," Rogers said. "I'm here to help the team. It doesn't matter where I'm going to be. That's baseball. I just need the opportunity."

New York Sports