Less than 24 hours after the Yankees needed nine relievers to cover 11 innings, there was action in the bullpen in the second inning Saturday afternoon.
Andrew Heaney had spotted the Mariners four runs before he recorded a sixth out and was one hitter away from not surviving the second inning, which could have sent the Yankees’ pitching staff into a tailspin.
“I was thinking at some point Anthony Rizzo’s going to be pitching in this game, to be honest with you,” manager Aaron Boone said with a laugh.
Boone could chuckle because Heaney got back on track before it was too late, finally settling in to give the Yankees six important innings in their 5-4 comeback win in The Bronx.
Heaney needed 40 pitches to get through the second inning and was a few feet away from giving up a grand slam that would have put the Mariners up, 7-1. Instead Mitch Haniger settled for a sacrifice fly that made it 4-1, but Heaney did not allow another run from there.
“Obviously, after the first two innings, I probably put a scare into everybody — probably into Boone, everybody in the bullpen [was] probably scrambling a little bit, trying to figure out how to get through this game,” Heaney said.
Heaney, the former Angels lefty who had gotten rocked for four homers in his Yankees debut and gave up a fifth on Saturday, credited his turnaround to a mechanical adjustment. He thought he had fixed it entering his start but, instead, did it mid-game, staying in line and tighter with his delivery.
“The first two innings were terrible,” Heaney said. “I don’t want that to be any indication of what I can do here.”
Boone said he was a batter away from pulling Heaney, but he stuck with him because of the thin bullpen.
“That’s a tough effort right there, when you’re coming to a new team, you’re trying to find your way, you’re up against it and you keep on going,” Boone said. “I just thought it was a really good performance by him.”
Corey Kluber threw the equivalent of two innings in a live bullpen session Saturday morning, his second since being shut down in May with a shoulder strain. He threw about 40 pitches to Gio Urshela and Tyler Wade.
“I thought he looked good,” Boone said. “He got a little tired at the end, but his shapes, stuff was good.”
Boone said the Yankees would see how Kluber bounces back Sunday before determining his next step — whether it’s a three-inning simulated game or a rehab start.
Giancarlo Stanton started in right field — his fourth game in the outfield this season, all of them within the last 10 days — to allow Boone to use Aaron Judge as DH. … Luis Gil, who tossed six shutout innings Tuesday in his MLB debut, will be recalled Sunday for an encore in the series finale against the Mariners.