Friday, April 4, 2014

Yangervis Solarte helps New York Yankees find win column

All it took was a rookie backup infielder to get the New York Yankees their first win of the 2014 season. Yangervis Solarte, just days after grabbing the last roster spot, went 3-for-3 scoring two runs and driving in another helping the Yankees defeat the Houston Astros 4-2 Thursday night.

Solarte flashed some leather in this one as well, demonstrating he is not just all bat. Being a switch-hitter and his versatility around the infield are undeniable benefits for the Yankees. He can spell Kelly Johnson at third base as his did Thursday when a lefty is on the mound, or he can sub for Brian Roberts at second base when manager Joe Girardi wants to rest his starter at the keystone.

If Solarte continues to make the most of his playing time, it will be difficult for the Yankees to send him back down to the minors during the season. For now, the spot is safe and it looks as though Girardi will try to get him time when he can.

"We liked what he did," Girardi said via "You don't try to jump too quickly to conclusions, but the kid is swinging the bat well, there's no doubt about it."

On the mound Ivan Nova was all over the place, throwing just 47 of his 88 pitches for strikes. He managed to survive 5.2 innings courtesy of four double plays. He allowed just two runs, but 13 baserunners (six hits, five walks and he hit Jason Castro twice) in notching his first win of the season.

Nova has a lot to prove this season and while he earned the victory, one has to wonder if he can be good two seasons in a row, something he has yet to accomplish in his career.

The bullpen was once again very good. Adam Warren and Shawn Kelley each struck out two batters to get the game to new closer David Robertson. Robertson did not disappoint with a 1-2-3 inning including a strikeout and seemed at ease in his new role.

"I try to treat it just like it's the eighth inning. Get three outs, and it used to be 'Hand the ball to Mo [Mariano Rivera],'" Robertson said. "Now I guess it's 'Turn around and high-five.'"

High-fives all-around for the Bombers as they head to Toronto to face American League East rival Blue Jays for a three-game set. The plane ride was surely much nicer than had they been swept by the Astros.

Masahiro Tanaka makes his major league debut Friday against Dustin McGowan.

Christopher Carelli is a freelance sports writer/editor and the Director of Content Strategy for Sportsideo.