New York Yankees manager Joe Girardi pulled his starting pitcher after six strong innings and a low pitch count to go to his bullpen trio of Dellin Betances, Andrew Miller and Aroldis Chapman for the second straight game as the Yankees beat the Oakland A's, 4-1, Thursday at Oakland Coliseum.
A night after Girardi pulled Nathan Eovaldi after six innings and 85 pitches, he took Ivan Nova out of a 2-1 game despite just 62 pitches and retiring the last five batters in a row in favor of Betances, Miller and Chapman, who have combined for 104 pitches over the past two days.
"There's a reason we put them together down there and it's for games like today and yesterday," Girardi said. "We didn't put them together for games that are 6-1 or 7-1, but when you've got 3-1 and 2-1 and they're close games and you have guys that strike people out, it's much harder to score."
Oakland's Josh Reddick, Danny Valencia, Khris Davis and Stephen Vogt, who were due up in the bottom of the seventh inning, combined to go 4 for 8 off Nova (3-1), including Reddick's solo home run in the fourth inning. Oakland's other batters were hitless in 12 at-bats against Nova.
"You look where I took him out in the lineup, they had four hits and the next four hitters had the four hits," Girardi said. "Reddick had one, Valencia had one and hit a couple balls hard, and Vogt had the other two. I just thought, 'I'm going to make a change.'"
Said Nova: "I didn't know how many pitches I threw in the game until I came out. I feel really good. I thought I would keep going, but he took me out."
Betances allowed the tying runner to reach base on a leadoff single to Reddick, who stole second base, but then struck out two of the next three hitters to get out of the inning. Miller pitched a 1-2-3 eighth inning and Chapman struck out two batters for his fifth save.
Betances has thrown 46 pitches over the past two days, Miller 31 pitches and Chapman 27. Asked about what he plans to do if the Yankees are in another close game on Friday when CC Sabathia returns to the mound, Girardi said, "We'll worry about tomorrow tomorrow."