OAKLAND -- Less than 24 hours after vowing that he would call upon his vaunted relief trio of Dellin Betances, Andrew Miller and Aroldis Chapman "99 percent of the time" if necessary, Joe Girardi again signaled to the bullpen, calling on "Done BMC" to finish off a Yankees victory.
This time, the manager did so after watching six strong, economical innings from starter Ivan Nova, who was surprised to learn he had been pulled after just 62 pitches. The strategy worked, as the bullpen fired three scoreless frames to help the Yankees celebrate a 4-1 victory over the Athletics.
"We haven't burned them out," Girardi said. "I'm going to use them when I feel the time is right. That's my call."
Girardi said that he wrestled somewhat with saving one of the three hurlers, after they were all used to preserve Nathan Eovaldi's winning effort Wednesday at Arizona.
But with the Yanks up by only a run after six, Girardi said that he sensed trouble if Nova were to face the heart of the Athletics lineup again. Betances' first assignment was to face Reddick, who had homered off Nova in the fourth.
"I didn't know how many pitches I threw in the game until I came out," Nova said. "I feel really good. I thought I would keep going, but he took me out. You have to understand that the guys we have behind, and Reddick hit a homer off me. They know that and they took me out."
Girardi explained that the hitters due up in the seventh accounted for all of the A's hits to that point; as Danny Valencia had singled in the fourth and Stephen Vogt had a pair of singles to his name.
Betances pitched around Reddick's leadoff single in the seventh, striking out two. Miller worked a perfect eighth with a strikeout and Chapman struck out two around a single in the ninth for his fifth save. It was the fourth time "Done BMC" has been deployed together.
"It's how good the back end is. It's hard not to use those guys," catcher Brian McCann said. "We've got to do a better job on offense to score more runs, but when you've got those three guys rested and ready to go, it's tough not to use those guys."
As a general rule, Girardi will not use relievers three straight games this early in the season, though he has already broken that once with Betances.
While he is adhering to his newfound mantra of "we'll worry about tomorrow, tomorrow," Girardi said that he certainly will not use Betances on Friday, having thrown 46 pitches over the past two nights.
"I don't second-guess myself. Maybe a lot of other people do," Girardi said. "There's a reason we put them together down there and it's for games like [Thursday] and [Wednesday]. 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."