NEW YORK -- We’ll never know what Domingo Germán’s season might have looked like if the Yankees had been blessed with terrific health from wire to wire. Perhaps the right-hander would have bounced between the rotation and bullpen, as in the past. Instead, he has become one of the American
NEW YORK -- We’ll never know what Domingo Germán’s season might have looked like if the Yankees had been blessed with terrific health from wire to wire. Perhaps the right-hander would have bounced between the rotation and bullpen, as in the past. Instead, he has become one of the American League’s most impressive young starters.
Embracing an opportunity provided in part by Luis Severino's injury, German is filling the void left by the ace’s absence. Firing pellets on a rainy, raw afternoon, German struck out seven and pitched into the seventh inning, helping to lead the Yankees to a 4-1, rain-shortened victory over the Twins on Sunday at Yankee Stadium.
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"It's about concentration when you're on the mound, and not losing that confidence," German said through a translator. "You understand that even if things don't go your way, you never lose your concentration. If a hitter is going to hit a good pitch, make sure that is exactly a pitch that you want to throw. When you execute a pitch, execute with conviction."
Mike Tauchman hit a two-run homer, his fourth big league blast, and DJ LeMahieu also drove in a run -- capitalizing on Brett Gardner's gritty 10-pitch walk earlier in the frame -- as the Yankees bested familiar face Michael Pineda to secure a series victory.
"It always feels good to hit a home run," Tauchman said. "I haven’t been swinging the bat anywhere near the level I want to be. It’s just great to contribute and have a good at-bat there. Anytime you can contribute to a win, it’s great."
Hours after general manager Brian Cashman stated that Severino is not expected to rejoin the big league club until after the All-Star break, and with James Paxton set to miss approximately three weeks with a left knee injury, the Yankees were thrilled to see German's continued emergence.
"We certainly envisioned him making starts and being a valuable member of our club in some way, shape or form," manager Aaron Boone said. "When he came into Spring Training, it was visible the strides he had made -- going back to last year, and where he’s at now. He’s been, to this point, one of the better pitchers in the game."
The 26-year-old German improved to 6-1 with a 2.35 ERA, throwing a career-high 108 pitches (69 for strikes) to tie the Rays' Tyler Glasnow for the Major League lead in victories.
German limited Minnesota to one run on four hits, walking three as he completed 6 2/3 frames. Boone said that he senses swelling confidence in German's fastball, curveball and changeup, and German credited his offseason work with pitching coach Larry Rothschild as well as with former Major Leaguer Daniel Cabrera.
"He's been our ace to this point, right?" said reliever Adam Ottavino. "He's got a lot of weapons, and now I think he's doing a really good job of getting in the right counts to use them all. You can just tell by the quality of the swings that they're not seeing him very well. He's been awesome."
Pineda, who spent six injury-marred years with the Yanks from 2012-17, fanned eight over five innings and was charged with four runs (three earned) on six hits.
Tommy Kahnle recorded a strikeout while completing the seventh inning, becoming the third pitcher in Major League history to record at least one strikeout but not allow a hit or run in 11 straight relief appearances.
Kahnle joined the Angels’ Ernesto Frieri (2012) and Koji Uehara of the Red Sox (‘13) in the feat. Bouncing back from a frustrating ‘18, in which Kahnle said he never quite felt like himself, the righty has retired 28 of the past 30 men he has faced, holding opponents hitless with two walks.
"I've known Tommy a long time, going back to Colorado," Ottavino said. "When he's right and healthy and throwing strikes, I'd put him up there against almost anyone. His fastball is electric and he's got, for me, one of the best changeups in the game."
The green weather radar blobs that the Yankees eyed all afternoon intensified in the eighth inning. Ottavino faced four hitters, issuing a walk, a passed ball and a hit-by-pitch before Boone summoned Aroldis Chapman with the intent of using the closer for a four-out save.
"I threw a couple of pitches there that I had no real feel for the ball," Ottavino said. "The mound itself was muddy, but I didn't try to let it affect me. When I got off, I realized how caked up everything was. I was just hoping Chappy would be able to throw enough strikes to get that guy out."
Chapman struck out Gonzalez, the only batter he faced, to pick up his seventh save. The game ended with Gleyber Torres standing on third base and a 3-1 count on Gardner, following a delay of one hour and one minute.
“When they came in, they had the best winning percentage in the big leagues,” Tauchman said. “Anytime you can win a series against a team that’s leading their division, it’s huge for the group. The pitching really, really did a great job for us this series."
Bryan Hoch has covered the Yankees for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and Facebook.