When Yankees starting pitcher Ivan Nova had to be removed in the top of the fourth inning on Thursday night, after surrendering eight runs on 10 hits, manager Joe Girardi was in a bit of a jam.
The night before, he had used six pitchers in a 4-3 11-inning loss. And the last thing he wanted to do was deplete his bullpen even further, the day before beginning a three-game series against the arch-rival Boston Red Sox.
So, Girardi turned to Amauri Sanit, who had just been called up from Triple-A Scranton a few hours before the game. And Sanit came through in a big way.
No, the Yankees did not come back to win -- they lost for the second straight night to the Royals, 11-5. But Sanit ate up 4 2/3 innings in his major league debut, allowing just one run in his first four innings of work. He ran out of gas in the eighth inning, after throwing 81 pitches, and was credited with two more runs allowed. Still, his performance leaves the Yankees in much better shape than they might have been, heading into their clash with the Red Sox.
"I felt good, I felt very secure about myself," Sanit, a native of Havana, Cuba, said through a translator after the game. "And I was prepared to go out there and pitch good."
He pitched well enough to receive a nice round of applause from the fans still remaining at Yankee Stadium when he exited the game.
Sanit, 31, a 5-foot-8 right-hander who joined the Yankees organization in 2008, had made eight appearances with Scranton this season, including two starts. In 16 and 1/3 innings pitched, he was 2-0 with a 4.96 ERA, with 24 strikeouts and six walks.
In 2010, Sanit was 3-2 with a 7.75 ERA in 21 appearances for Scranton. He was also suspended for 50 games after testing positive for a banned performance-enhancing substance -- Mephentermine, a substance described as a "cardiac stimulant" with effects similar to ephedrine, a banned drug used as a stimulant and appetite suppressant.
But 2011 has been a better year so far for Sanit -- especially now that he has made an impact at the major league level.
"It was a little tough, because it was the first time I was gonna pitch in the major leagues," Sanit said. "After the first pitch and the first inning, everything was normal."