09/23/11 12:39 AM ET
Pair of Yankees hurlers happy debuts in books
By Bryan Hoch / MLB.com
With the Yankees fighting for playoff entry, there hadn't been an opportunity for work. But a day after the American League East was secured, Bartolo Colon's ineffective start became an opportunity for the rookie right-handers.
Brackman and Betances made their Major League debuts in the Yankees' 15-8 loss to the Rays, painting an ultimately forgettable Yankee Stadium contest with their own personal memories.
"It's just a big relief, like the pressure is off my shoulders," said Brackman, 25, the Yankees' first-round pick in the 2007 First-Year Player Draft. "Now I can sleep well at night and not be nervous about tomorrow."
Brackman pitched 1 1/3 scoreless innings around a hit and error, but Betances struggled after entering to start the eighth inning, walking four and allowing two runs.
"I tried to go out there and do the best I could," said Betances, 23, an eighth-round pick in the 2006 Draft. "Unfortunately, that wasn't the case, but I was happy to get the first one out of the way."
Yankees manager Joe Girardi said that he told both pitchers to relax and have as much fun as they could.
"It's not easy -- we've all had butterflies, and sometimes you have a successful first outing. Sometimes you don't," Girardi said. "You don't make too much of it. You try to take it in. I think the hardest thing for a player to do in that situation is control his emotions."
As interested as Jeter had been to see the duo on the mound, the captain had been removed by the time Brackman was summoned in the sixth inning, with the Yankees trailing, 13-0.
Brackman entered and threw one pitch, a 90-mph cutter to B.J. Upton, who flied out to end the sixth. As he walked off the field, Brackman received a nice ovation from the crowd.
It was a long way from where Brackman had been just a few months ago, standing outside a ballpark in Durham, N.C., after an awful outing for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, debating if he should get on the bus at all.
"Two months ago, I never thought I'd be here," Brackman said. "I'm thankful for every day that I have here, and I'll just keep working hard. ... It was like a light switch went off, kind of. I gained some confidence."
The 6-foot-10 Brackman stayed in and pitched a scoreless seventh around a hit, walk and an error. He said that his parents missed the debut by a day; they are scheduled to arrive in New York on Friday.
"The weirdest thing was coming down through the tunnel and Reggie Jackson giving me a high five," Brackman said. "That was pretty cool."
Betances' New York roots run deep -- born in Washington Heights, he grew up on the Lower East Side and starred at Brooklyn's Grand Campus High School, attending David Wells' 1998 perfect game as a 10-year-old Yankees fan.
With his parents, two brothers and girlfriend watching from the seats, the 6-foot-8 Betances said his heartbeat "was pumping so fast" as he trotted in from the bullpen.
Reid Brignac flied out to begin the inning, but Betances then loaded the bases on walks and hit Matt Joyce with a pitch to force home a run.
A Russ Canzler sacrifice fly brought in Tampa Bay's 15th run, and after a walk, Betances was hooked in favor of George Kontos. Pitching coach Larry Rothschild told Betances he was throwing instead of pitching.
"When you get in that situation, you've just got to relax and make pitches," Betances said. "I was just over-thinking too much. Hopefully I get the chance to pitch once [more] before the season is over; if not, I'll just work hard this offseason and prepare myself for next year."