NEW YORK -- Chase Whitley didn’t get the win, but it didn’t really matter.
Pitching 4⅔ scoreless innings -- in the Subway Series, no less -- qualifies as a wonderful major league debut. And that’s what Whitley gave the New York Yankees in a 1-0 win at Citi Field on Thursday.
"I was pretty nervous," Whitley said, "but before the game, I just prayed, and the Lord just allowed everything to take all the nerves away."
A native of Ranburne, Alabama (population: 409, as of the 2010 census), Whitley was drafted by the Yankees in the 15th round out of Troy University back in 2010. Since then, he has slowly made his way up the minor league ladder, making 144 appearances in his first four seasons, 136 of them out of the bullpen.
He was converted to a starter at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre this season and went 3-2 with a 2.39 ERA in seven games (six starts). That led to a call-up this week and a start against the New York Mets in place of the injured CC Sabathia.
Whitley, who turns 25 next month, was in control from the get-go on Thursday, retiring the Mets in order in the first inning -- capped off by a strikeout of David Wright. Mixing a low-90s fastball, slider and changeup, he allowed just two hits -- both singles in the third inning. But with runners on first and third with one out in that inning, he got Eric Young Jr. to fly out and then struck out Daniel Murphy to end the frame.
In the fifth, Whitley gave up back-to-back walks to Ruben Tejada and Juan Centeno with one out. After Mets pitcher Jacob deGrom bunted Centeno and Tejada over to second and third, Yankees manager Joe Girardi replaced Whitley with Dellin Betances, who got a groundout from Young to keep the game scoreless.
"[Whitley's] performance was spectacular," Girardi said. "First time out, not being a starter his whole career, not being stretched out a ton, we just felt that he started to tire."
"The adrenaline wore off a little bit," Whitley said. "That’s something I’ve gotta build on for next time, for sure."
The next time will likely be Wednesday at Wrigley Field. "He didn't do anything to not make his next start," Girardi said.
But you only make your major league debut once, and things couldn't have gone much better -- Whitley even collected a hit in his first big league at-bat, a single to right field. And his wife, parents, in-laws and a bunch of friends were in the building to see it.
"I left 16 tickets, and I think there [were] probably 10 or 15 more that came," Whitley said. "An unbelievable amount of support."
After Adam Warren allowed a one-out walk and two-out single in the eighth inning, Robertson came in with runners on first and third and Wright at the plate. Robertson induced a groundout from Wright and then pitched a 1-2-3 ninth with two strikeouts.
"I've come in the seventh before and thrown the eighth -- it feels the same as that," Robertson said. "Just fortunate it worked out tonight."