The Yankees held on to a 2-1 win over the Tigers on Saturday afternoon in the Bronx despite only collecting two hits.
Dellin Betances notched the save with a scoreless ninth.
“He’s really good,” Aaron Boone said. “And I think he’s in a really good place.”
Betances looked like the bullpen stalwart the Yankees count on as he put his blown save and loss from Thursday behind him.
“The good thing about baseball is it’s an everyday game,” Betances said. “A lot of sports you have to wait. Football you have to wait a week. Basketball you only play three times a week. In baseball, a lot of times you’ll get an opportunity the next day.”
When Jeimer Candelario went to swinging in the ninth inning, Betances became the first pitcher in Major League history to record at least 100 strikeouts as a reliever in five consecutive seasons. Only Dick Radatz, Duane Ward, Rob Dibble and Aroldis Chapman accomplished the feat four straight seasons.
“It means a lot,” Betances said. “To be able to spend a lot of time in the minor leagues and I came up as a starter. That didn’t work out for me so I got moved to the bullpen and from 2014 I’ve been able to stay healthy which is the key.”
He holds an American League record with 36 consecutive relief appearances with a strikeout. The only National League pitchers with more were Chapman, Corey Knebel and Bruce Sutter.
The blown save on Thursday was shocking considering Betances allowed two earned runs over his 35 previous appearances. The 6’8” right-hander has been virtually lights out since late May.
“I think because he’s in such a comfortable place with his delivery it allows him to regroup much more easily because that leads to confidence,” Boone said.
Betances has been dealing with a problem concerning the ring finger on his pitching hand. His long thumbnail has been cutting the ring finger in the follow-through of his delivery. Now he’s paying more attention to cutting his nails.
“It’s getting to the point that if I cut it any more I’m not going to have any nail,” Betances said.
With Aroldis Chapman out for an undetermined amount of time, Betances has stepped into the closer role.
After Masahiro Tanaka pitched seven innings, Boone went to Jonathan Holder to pitch the eighth inning. The skipper was asked if he thought about using Betances in the eighth because the heart of the order was up. “We wouldn’t just throw Holder into a first time save situation in there,” Boone said.
There were times over the past two seasons when Betances would have trouble finding the strike zone. That seems to be over and the Thursday’s loss seems to be a small blip on the radar.
“It’s a long season,” Betances said. “You’re going to have good games and some bad ones. This team this year has given me a little trouble so I was just glad I kind of got back out there pretty quickly and shake hands after the game.”