Just mere minutes into Tuesday's game, David Phelps allowed himself to relax a little on the mound.
By lasting more than one out, he had already guaranteed he wouldn't have a repeat of his disastrous outing against the Mets on May 29.
"I kind of chuckled to myself when I got the second out," Phelps said. "Like, all right, I'm already doing better than last time."
Phelps bounced back from the worst start of his career by pitching six shutout innings of one-hit ball in the Yankees' 4-3 win over the Indians on Tuesday night. It marked the longest outing of his career without giving up a run, and he became the first Yankees pitcher to throw at least six scoreless innings in a start immediately following an outing in which he recorded one out or less since Catfish Hunter in 1978.
"I've tried to forget about the last start as much as possible. It's always good to come out and have a good outing after something like that," Phelps said. "Got to go out and prepare for the next one and kind of got to forget about this one too and go out and get ready for my next opponent."
In Phelps' previous start, the Mets shellacked him for five runs, leading to his removal just one out into the game. His defense didn't help, as Jayson Nix booted a potential inning-ending double-play ball, but Phelps gave up four hits and walked two batters over 31 pitches.
Tuesday, Phelps showed improvement right from the start as he threw a perfect first inning. Cleveland often worked deep into counts Tuesday and made Phelps work, but he won the majority of the battles.
The lone hit against Phelps came in the third on an infield single by Drew Stubbs. Cleveland's other base runners came via walks, but Phelps navigated through any tricky predicaments. After putting two men on with no outs in the fifth, he struck out Mike Aviles, retired Stubbs on a pop up and forced Michael Bourn into a fly out.
"It was a battle all night. I felt like I was all over the place," Phelps said. "Was fortunate when I needed to make some big pitchers I was able to make them. [Chris Stewart] did a good job back there with me, trying to figure out what pitches I could throw for strikes tonight."
ROUGH FOR JOBA: Joba Chamberlain pitched in back-to-back games for the first time since coming off the disabled list on May 28 and gave up a three-run homer in the seventh that made it 4-3.
Yankees manager Joe Girardi said he still has faith in Chamberlain despite the blip.
"It's still high," Girardi said of his confidence in Chamberlain. "He got in some long counts too tonight that probably hurt him. Threw a number of pitches. This is the first time he went back-to-back. Eventually he was going to have to do that."
FRANCONA AND AVILES: Aviles was ejected after flying out to end Tuesday's game and Cleveland manager Terry Francona yelled at the umpires after the game. Francona said that home plate umpire Tony Randazzo thought Aviles had fouled off a pitch when Aviles said he hadn't done so.
"It's a situation where you are down one and you have maybe the best closer in the history of baseball in the game, he doesn't need any help," Francona said. "I just thought at that point Tony [Randazzo] should have kept walking or either apologized to Mike but everybody makes mistakes and it's a tough call and a tough position to be put in when you are facing Rivera."