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Brian Cashman credits Yankees success to defense, bullpen

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Yankee GM Brian Cashman was frustrated by the team’s poor defensive play early in the season but said Thursday the club’s gloves are shaping up.

“I think those first two series were very uncharacteristic of our abilities,” Cashman said. “We’ve settled in now and we’re playing more to the level we expected.

“Our defense can be exceptional and our offense can be very productive.”

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The Yankees started the season 3-6 but are in a strong 10-3 stretch heading into a weekend series at Fenway that starts Friday night. They have significant problems – Masahiro Tanaka’s latest injury, the struggles of Carlos Beltran and Didi Gregorius’ slow start as Derek Jeter’s replacement among them – but they’re in first place in the American League East division.

A lot of credit has to go to the bullpen, a unit Cashman praised.

“We’ve pitched extremely well, not surprisingly, out of the pen,” Cashman said. “We thought it was a strength and it has been.”

Yankee relievers allowed one run and one hit in 7.1 innings in Wednesday’s 3-2 loss to the Rays in 13 innings. Since April 22, the bullpen has a 0.88 ERA and has struck out 38 in 30.2 innings.

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Overall, the Yankees’ 1.75 relief ERA is second in the majors behind only Kansas City (1.05). In 82.1 innings, Yankee relievers have 93 strikeouts and are holding opposing hitters to a .159 average.

“We’re accustomed to having strong pens and we expect to continue to have strong pens,” said Cashman, who had the pleasure of watching Mariano Rivera work for years. “It’s certainly an important component of the club.”

Cashman said there’s no reason to worry about the blister on Dellin Betances’ left big toe. The reliever limped off the mound after pitching Wednesday, but said he could’ve continued.

Good thing, too, because Betances has held batters hitless over their last 25 at-bats, a career-best, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. Betances has 14 strikeouts and one walk over that span.

He has also struck out at least two batters without giving up a hit in each of his last six appearances since April 19, the longest such streak by any Yankee reliever since at least 1914.

Free agent signee Andrew Miller has emerged into a dominant force, averaging 15.88 strikeouts per nine innings. He’s allowed no runs and three hits in 11.1 innings and has eight saves.

“He’s been everything we hoped he could be,” Cashman said. “Bobby Valentine made him a reliever back with Boston and he really found his niche. He’s performed high end in Baltimore and Boston and now we’ve signed him. The unknown was how would he perform in New York? We expected it to continue and he’s answered it. He’s handled everything with high-end performance and class. We’re thankful he’s with us.”

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dellin betances ,
andrew miller ,
brian cashman

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Baseball – NY Daily News

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