BALTIMORE -- Shane Greene compared his first two major league starts to a dream, but there may not be anything make-believe about them.
Greene may not become a full-time major league starter. There is still a lot to learn and accomplish after just 13 2/3 innings, no matter how good they have been.
What is already certain is Greene's talent. It is real.
The 6-foot-4 Greene fires his 95 mph fastball from a downward plane. He combines it with a nasty slider, sinker and a cutter. In each of his first two major league starts for the Yankees, he has been unhittable for 4 2/3 innings. On Saturday, he went 7 1/3 scoreless innings, striking out nine, including MVP candidate Nelson Cruz three times.
"It's been a dream come true," said Greene, 25, a young man of few words.
When Greene's pitch count reached 106 in the eighth, Joe Girardi took him out. Greene has not gone more than 100 pitches often and so Girardi lifted him. As Greene left the mound, the usual large contingent of Yankees fans at Camden Yards stood and gave him a huge ovation. He heard each and every one of them.
"I had goose bumps," Greene said.
The Yankees' season may depend on Masahiro Tanaka's elbow rehabilitation. If Tanaka can get right in six weeks, combined with a favorable schedule that includes 41 games at home and just 28 on the road after the break, the Yankees may find something with Greene, Hiroki Kuroda, David Phelps and maybe even Michael Pineda leading the way.
Besides the homegrown bullpen trio of David Robertson, Dellin Betances and Adam Warren, Greene joins Ivan Nova and Phelps as pitchers who have grown up as Yankees and could be a big part of their future.
It is only two starts, but Greene has that 95 mph-plus stuff that makes his long-term success seem much more plausible than, say, Chase Whitley's.
"He's stepping up," Girardi said. "That's for sure. To be able to come and face two pretty good lineups in Cleveland with a lot of left-handed hitters and Baltimore, who swings the bats extremely well, to keep the ball in the ballpark for the most part, he's throwing the ball really well. He is earning starts. That's what he is doing."
Greene admitted to being much calmer in his second start compared to his first, when he still did not allow an Indian a hit until the fifth and lasted six innings, giving up just two runs. He struck out two that time out. This time, he rang up nine Orioles, opening eyes on his own club.
"Everybody is a big leaguer here," said Francisco Cervelli, who caught Saturday. "Everybody can do the job. Of course, we have lost big names. It doesn't mean the other guys can not do it. We just have to work, work, and have a good plan."
Greene is wise enough to listen to what Cervelli put down.
"He knows these guys better than I do," Greene said.
In his postgame interview, Greene was pretty contrite. He said he zones out much of the game and doesn't remember specific at-bats very well. When he was asked if he knew he struck out Cruz three times, he responded, "Did I?"
On a follow-up, he confirmed he knew that happened. That was part of the dream he definitely remembered. Now there is a chance -- a chance -- Greene might become unforgettable.
Notes: Girardi announced that Whitley will start Sunday night's game. ... The suddenly hot-hitting Brian McCann had X-rays on his right foot. They were negative. He thought he could play on Sunday.