Chase Whitley’s 7.2 solid innings led to the first three-game sweep of the season for the Yankees

Chase Whitley during spring training

Chase Whitley during spring training

The Yankees just finished a much needed three-game sweep against the Seattle Mariners. The Yankees improved their record to 34-31 and are 3.5 games behind the first place Toronto Blue Jays. The Baltimore Orioles have won two in a row and are tied with the Yankees for second place in the American League East.

On Thursday, the Yankees beat Robinson Cano and the Mariners 6-3 after yet another impressive pitching performance from rookie Chase Whitley. He only allowed two runs in 7.2 innings while not allowing a walk, striking out six batters and throwing 62 of his 82 pitches for strikes. Whitley, who has an excellent change-up, picked up his second consecutive win after four consecutive no decisions after joining the rotation after CC Sabathia’s injury.

Whitley credited outstanding defensive plays in the outfield for part of his success. “They (Mariners) were aggressive,” Whitely said. “They started being aggressive especially later on. What else helped was (Jacoby) Ellsbury making a heck of a catch and Gardy (Brett Gardner) making a heck of a catch.” He said his strikeout in the third was “huge because that was a shutdown inning and my goal is to always make sure that we always shutdown innings. To be able to do that especially in that situation, first and third, to get through that, that was big.”

The Yankees are now 5-1 in games that Whitley has started. Whitley has always put the team in position to win partly because of only allowing three walks in his 33.2 innings pitched. He has not allowed a walk in his past four starts, which usually means that a pitcher will have success. Seattle scored their first run off of Whitley via a homer by Logan Morrison in the 2nd inning and their second off of a James Jones single to center that scored Brad Miller.

Whitley was able to get the win because the Yankees had a 6-2 lead when he left the game. Ellsbury hit a 408-foot homer to right center in the first to drive in Derek Jeter and extend his hitting streak to 16 games. He is now living up to the hefty contract that the Yankees gave him. In the third, Alfonso Soriano’s double to left scored Ellsbury and Jeter, and Jeter’s single in the fourth sent Brian Roberts and John Ryan Murphy home. Jeter, who had three hits, and Murphy, who had two hits, were the two Yankees who had multiple hits, but every player except Roberts, Yangervis Solarte and Gardner had a hit.

Shawn Kelley, who was pitching in his first game since May 6 as a result of a lower-back strain, allowed a run off of two hits in the ninth inning. This led to David Robertson striking out the last two batters of the game for his 16th save of the season.

The Bronx Bombers, who scored more than four runs on Thursday for the first time since May 28, will now play three games in Oakland against the Athletics. The Athletics, who have scored the second most runs in baseball and have a very good pitching staff, currently have the best record in the American League and trail only the San Francisco Giants for the best record in all of baseball.

Here are the pitching match-ups for the series in Oakland:

Friday at 10:05 p.m. EST – David Phelps, (1-4, 4.88 ERA) who allowed seven runs in his last start, will start for the Yanks. The 24-year-old righty Sonny Gray (6-2, 2.83 ERA) will pitch for the Athletics.

Saturday at 10:05 p.m. EST – Two pitchers who have recently been pitching well will face off. It will be Hiroki Kuroda (4-4, 4.12 ERA) vs. Scott Kazmir (7-2, 2.20 ERA).

Sunday at 4:05 p.m. EST – In the series finale it will be Vidal Nuno (1-2, 4.97 ERA, who is from California, pitching against righty Jesse Chavez (5-5, 3.04 ERA).

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