The New York Yankees bullpen is already overworked after pitching eight innings the last two days. With Jaret Wright taking the mound Tuesday night against the Atlanta Braves, those relievers aren’t likely to get a night off.
Wright (4-4, 4.45 ERA), who hasn’t pitched past the sixth inning all season, looks to give his team some badly needed length when the Yankees (43-31) try for their second straight win of this three-game set.
Despite allowing just three hits and throwing 84 pitches through five innings in his last outing, a 3-0 victory at Philadelphia on Wednesday, the right-hander again failed to go deep into the game. Sensing he was laboring, Yankees manager Joe Torre pulled Wright after the fifth.
“He pitched his tail off,” Torre said of Wright, who walked a season-high four to go along with six strikeouts. “He could have gotten a little tired in the fifth inning. He made pitches when he had to. He’ll get there. He’s still working on stuff. Hopefully it gets a little more comfortable for him.”
Torre would prefer for that to happen Tuesday night. New York’s bullpen has been worked hard throughout the season, but the last few days have been particularly taxing. New York needed six innings out of its relievers in a doubleheader Sunday, and heavily used right-hander Scott Proctor replaced Randy Johnson to start the eighth Monday in New York’s series-opening 5-2 victory.
Star closer Mariano Rivera, who also came on to earn a save in Sunday’s opener, was summoned for two outs when Proctor gave up a two-run homer to Chipper Jones and allowed another runner to reach in the ninth.
Wright’s win Wednesday was his first since May 28.
He’ll be facing Atlanta (32-45) for the first time since leaving the team after the 2004 season to sign with New York. Wright was 15-8 with a 3.28 ERA in 32 starts in his final year with the Braves.
The right-hander is 0-0 with a 9.53 ERA in four appearances against Atlanta, all in relief.
Wright will look to follow up a third straight strong start by Johnson, who held the Braves scoreless over seven innings. Johnson gave up four hits while striking out a season-high nine.
The Yankees have won five of their last six interleague games after dropping five of the first seven.
The stumbling Braves will hand the ball to Horacio Ramirez (2-2, 4.32), who had a solid return to the rotation after missing his turn the previous week. The left-hander was hit in the head by a line drive off the bat of Houston’s Lance Berkman on June 11, knocking him out of the game, but he returned Thursday and pitched a solid 6 2-3 innings in Atlanta’s 3-2 loss to Toronto. Ramirez gave up one run and seven hits, striking out five and walking six. He did not factor in the decision.
“I thought I had a lot of walks, but, on the other hand, with a lineup like that, I don’t think it hurts to walk a lot sometimes,” said Ramirez, who has never faced the Yankees. “I just didn’t give in.”
Monday’s loss dropped last-place Atlanta to 4-20 in June.