5/28/2014 9:42 P.M. ET
Yanks' bullpen coming up big when it counts
By Alex Halsted / MLB.com
ST. LOUIS -- The Yankees' bullpen has been credited with three extra-inning wins during this nine-game road trip, and the work hasn't gone unnoticed.
"They've done a really good job. We've done a good job of giving them days when they need days," manager Joe Girardi said. "The thing that we came into the year with was multiple-inning guys. We weren't really a one-inning seventh, eighth and ninth [kind of team]. We knew we weren't that."
One key to that philosophy has been right-handed reliever Dellin Betances, who has been asked to get more than three outs in 14 of his 21 appearances this season. Betances, a converted starter, has assumed a major role in the bullpen, tossing 30 1/3 innings in the first 51 games.
The results have been powerful, in more ways than one. Betances has allowed only five earned runs, for a 1.48 ERA. And then there are the strikeouts.
Betances has struck out 51 and is holding hitters to a .144 average. But even with his dominance out of the bullpen and multi-inning outings, Girardi is keeping a close eye on his pitch count and innings pitched -- as he is with all of his relievers.
"His workload is very similar to what he's done before, but I'm very cognizant of his workload and how we're using him," Girardi said. "I watch all of the relievers. I'm very careful with the pitches they throw, because we want them year after year after year."
McCann makes first professional start at first base
ST. LOUIS -- Brian McCann wasn't sure what to expect. He borrowed a first baseman's glove from Kelly Johnson's locker and sought tips from teammate Mark Teixeira.
The rest was to be determined.
On Wednesday, for the first time in his professional career, McCann was slotted into a lineup at first base. The 30-year-old veteran saw time at first base three times this season as a late-game replacement, otherwise he never played there. At least not since high school.
"I kind of know how to work around the bag, so that's not going to be a problem," McCann said. "It's just fielding ground balls and hopefully making a pick or two. We'll see what happens."
McCann has taken a few grounders at first this season. In four innings manning the position, he made three putouts and avoided making any mistakes.
But with Teixeira sitting for a third straight day resting his stiff right wrist and third baseman Yangervis Solarte getting the night off, first base opened up, as Johnson shifted to third.
McCann told manager Joe Girardi that he would be open to giving it a try if needed.
"Whatever's going to help the team," McCann said, "that's what I want to do."
Girardi had been hesitant, but after seeing McCann spend some time at first, including during the eighth inning on Tuesday, and with limited options, he was comfortable enough with writing his name in Wednesday's lineup.
"There are a lot of things you don't plan on doing during the course of the season that kind of go awry when some things happen," Girardi said. "I never planned on playing [outfielder] Vernon Wells at third base last year. Never in my wildest dreams, but it happened. That's [what] you have to be, sometimes, a little creative."
His advice for McCann?
"I told him he can take his shinguards if he wants," Girardi said.
Long-term, Girardi has no intention of continually using McCann at first base, but he may have another option in his seven-time All-Star catcher if needed.
"I wouldn't make too much of this today," Girardi said. "I'm not looking at this as being an option going forward right now. I still consider him my everyday catcher. I'm not really thinking much past today, it's just one day I chose to do it."
Slumping Solarte out of lineup for finale vs. Cards
ST. LOUIS -- Manager Joe Girardi stressed that baseball is filled with streaks. Yangervis Solarte finds himself in the middle of a cold one.
Solarte's .285 batting average remains tops among rookies across the Majors, but it's dropped in recent games. Since May 15, a day after he watched his nine-game hitting streak end, Solarte has hit just .152.
The 26-year-old left multiple runners on base in Tuesday's 6-0 loss to the Cardinals, hitting into a double play with two on and one out in one inning and popping out with two on and two out in another.
On Wednesday he was held out of the lineup.
"We always look for reasons why a guy is scuffling," Girardi said. "It's part of the game. ... Players go through things, either really hot streaks or cold streaks. If you didn't go through them, you'd probably hit .400 or .500 all the time.
"You know they're going to go through them, and when they're going through them, sometimes you just need to give them a little break."
• Second baseman Brian Roberts has hit safely in four consecutive games. During that span he has gone 5-for-15 with a walk and a home run.
• Tuesday night's shutout marked the second time this season that the New York offense has been blanked, the first coming on April 5 in Toronto. Entering Wednesday's series finale, the Yankees are 10-3 since the start of 2013 in games immediately following a shutout.
• Teixeira, out of the lineup for a third consecutive day on Wednesday, will meet with his surgeon on Thursday.
"It's still a little bit sore, so we didn't put him in there today," Girardi said. "There's still more improvement, but he still feels it, so we thought it was in his best interest just to give him another day, which probably give him two more [because of Thursday's off-day]."
• Shortstop Derek Jeter was given a normal day of rest on Wednesday to combine with Thursday's day off. The Yankees play in 43 of the next 45 days leading up to the All-Star break.
Alex Halsted is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.