Pineda's six shutout innings steer Yanks to sweep
Right-hander allows four hits and a walk while striking out three
NEW YORK -- The Yankees bundled up, sipped a warm beverage and took a long look at what they hope will be the future of their rotation, watching Masahiro Tanaka and Michael Pineda showcase dominant efforts in Wednesday's day-night doubleheader sweep of the Cubs.
Backed by a solid performance from Yankees newcomer Scott Sizemore, who drove in one run and scored another, Pineda whipped six efficient innings of scoreless ball in the evening contest as New York posted a 2-0 victory over Chicago.
"I'm feeling good. I threw the ball good," Pineda said. "I'm happy with that."
The punchless Cubs fared no better in the afternoon contest, when Tanaka limited Chicago to a pair of bunt singles over eight scoreless innings, striking out 10. Carlos Beltran slugged his third homer in as many games, supporting a 3-0 Yankees victory.
"For Pineda to be healthy and for Tanaka to be better than advertised, it's great," said Brian McCann, who caught that first game. "Pineda has worked really hard to get back to the way he was in 2011, and Tanaka has been lights-out since he's been here."
The doubleheader shutout was the Yankees' first since April 19, 1987, when they blanked the Royals in both ends of a twin bill, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
"That just goes to show you how well our pitchers threw today," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "It's nice to have. When you shut the other team down for 18 innings, you're doing some things right."
In the second game, the Yankees had the services of captain Derek Jeter, who played for the first time since Friday as he returned from a tight right quadriceps muscle. Jeter went 1-for-5, one of eight Yanks starters to log hits, but the story was on the mound.
Pineda's third Yankees outing was completed without the controversy that bubbled up during his previous effort against the Red Sox, when a mysterious substance on his pitching hand -- dirt, he'd said, though others guessed pine tar -- was spotted by television cameras and quickly created a social media stir.
"I'm not thinking about that," Pineda said. "I'm focused on my job and to be ready to start every five days."
Major League Baseball refused to discipline Pineda, noting that the Red Sox never complained to the umpiring crew. Cubs manager Rick Renteria vowed that he'd watch for any signs of gunk, but his club had more issue with the fastballs and sliders hurtling in their direction.
Pineda limited the Cubs to just four hits and struck out three in an 89-pitch outing, walking one. Owning a sterling 1.00 ERA at this point, Pineda became the first Yankee since Kevin Brown in 2004 to throw at least six innings and allow one run or less in each of his first three starts for the club.
"Again, really, really good," Girardi said. "Command of his pitches, command of his changeup, his slider tonight. It wasn't the best conditions to pitch in, but I thought he did a really good job."
Asked if he wanted to pitch deeper into the game, Pineda smiled and nodded, but caution continues to rule in his case. Girardi has been hesitant to push Pineda much further early in the season, a nod to his recent recovery from right labrum surgery.
"We don't have an innings limit on him, but we're going to be somewhat careful," Girardi said.
New York touched Cubs left-hander Travis Wood for two runs and 11 hits in 5 2/3 innings. In the fifth, Sizemore legged out an infield hit, advanced on John Ryan Murphy's broken-bat single and scored on a Brett Gardner single to right field.
"They found some holes tonight," Wood said. "I felt like I made some good pitches, and some of them got through [for hits]."
The Yankees added a run with three hits in the sixth. Alfonso Soriano singled, moved to second on Yangervis Solarte's hit and then came home on a single by Sizemore, who was called up from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre prior to the doubleheader to assist the Yanks' depleted infield.
"I'm sure it was special for him, because he's been through a lot," Girardi said of Sizemore, who has had two reconstructive surgeries on his left ACL. "For him, it's a special day, a big hit. There weren't a lot of runs scored today. He was part of it."
With Pineda lifted early because of those pitch count concerns, David Phelps pitched out of a self-created two-on, none-out situation in the seventh inning, hurling 1 1/3 scoreless innings. Matt Thornton recorded two outs in the eighth before giving up a leadoff single in the ninth.
Wearing No. 42, along with the rest of his teammates in honor of Jackie Robinson Day, Adam Warren then attempted his best Mariano Rivera impression. It wasn't flawless, with a wild pitch and a walk spicing things up.
But Warren nailed down his first career save, getting Ryan Kalish to ground out to Jeter at shortstop, pinning runners at second and third and dispatching the Yankees for their upcoming seven-game trip to see the Rays and Red Sox.
"I feel like we're throwing a quality arm at you every single night," McCann said. "You get quality starts from five guys day in and day out and hand the ball off to a bullpen that's coming in and executing their pitch, that's the recipe for success."