The great escape: Swarzak works key relief

Righty, 1st baseman Refsnyder help Yanks out of bases-loaded jam in 6th

July 20th, 2016

NEW YORK -- The box score credits the victory to and his 5 1/3 innings of work, but the biggest outs Tuesday evening for the Yankees were recorded by , who extinguished a bases-loaded, one-out jam with the Major Leagues' leading home run hitter at the plate.

Righty Swarzak coaxed sixth-inning popouts from and , then worked two more perfect innings to help preserve the Yankees' third straight victory, a 7-1 decision over the Orioles that moved New York a game above the break-even mark at 47-46.

"You throw strikes," Swarzak said. "You have nowhere to put anybody. You want to challenge everybody with your best stuff, and hopefully you come out on top."

Neophyte first baseman played a large part in turning the O's aside after Eovaldi ran into trouble, surrendering a run-scoring double to and filling the bases with a semi-intentional, four-pitch walk to .

Trumbo has 28 homers this season, but he lifted a foul pop down the first-base line, where Refsnyder lunged for the ball and then delivered a two-hop throw to catcher that froze at third base.

Refsnyder had never played first base professionally before this season, but he handled that chance like a seasoned veteran and said that second baseman helped guide his path to the ball.

"I wanted to get the ball in the air back to Mac as soon as possible, just to kind of shut that down," Refsnyder said. "If I would have been hesitant, [Jones] might have gone, but that's a potent lineup. You kind of just think through all those things before the pitch. That's what I'm trying to work on most at first base right now, just trying to work through all those plays so they can become kind of reactionary."

Yankees manager Joe Girardi said that he opted to call Swarzak's name after being pleased by his 2 2/3 scoreless innings on Saturday against the Red Sox.

"He has pitched in these situations, he has experience, he throws strikes," Girardi said. "He has a couple of pitches he can use, and he's got some velo, so that's why I went to him."

An added benefit of Swarzak's outing was that, combined with Castro's two-run double in the home half of the sixth, the Yankees were able to rest their big three of , and after working them back-to-back nights.

"It's important every night," Swarzak said. "It's incredible, what they do and what they can do. I know I've learned a lot just from watching them. To be able to get the job done tonight was nice, and hopefully they get to pitch tomorrow and get another win."

And it may have earned Swarzak some more mound time. Tuesday's successful escape has Girardi wondering if the 30-year-old -- who attended camp this spring as a non-roster invitee on a Minor League deal -- could serve as the Yanks' bridge to "No Runs DMC."

"He's had a couple of hiccups along the way, but most of his outings have been pretty good," Girardi said. "He's a guy that's also used to going multiple innings. He did that a lot in Minnesota. Yeah, he could be that guy."