Replacing someone like Mariano Rivera did not figure to be easy. It got even harder when David Robertson went down with a groin injury in the first weekend of the season.
So far, the Yankees have had few problems while waiting for Robertson to recover.
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They have six saves in Robertson’s absence, including two on Wednesday. Adam Warren navigated a tricky ninth inning earn the Yankees a 2-0 victory over the Cubs and their first doubleheader shutout sweep since 1987.
Shawn Kelley recorded the save after Masahiro Tanaka dominated the Cubs in the first game. But since manager Joe Girardi looks to avoid using relievers three games in a row, especially this early in the season, Warren was the man of the hour in the second game.
It was hardly easy, as Warren had to work around a walk that put runners on first and second and then a wild pitch that put runners at second and third.
“It feels a little different,” Warren said of closing. “You get the blood flowing a little bit more, but I just tried to slow everything down. Everything’s moving fast at the beginning but the big thing for me is to make sure I’m moving slow.”
Warren’s only other career save was a four-inning one in a 7-0 win at Cleveland in the second game of a doubleheader on May 13 played in frigid conditions. This one was significantly different.
“Early on I was having trouble kind of feeling my release point on my pitches and I tried to slow the game down and just made some good pitches when I could,” Warren said.
The Yankees have won four in a row all by three runs or less.
“You want to keep the train rolling along and you don’t want to be that guy that messes it up,” Warren said. “So it kind of pushes you a little bit to keep it going.”
Warren came on after left-hander Matt Thornton gave up an infield single to Nate Schierholtz.
He fell behind 3-0 on Starlin Castro before getting a pop-up to second baseman Dean Anna. Then he walked Luis Valbuena on five pitches and threw a wild pitch on the first offering to Wellington Castillo.
With runners on second and third, Warren regrouped and got Castillo to foul out to catcher John Ryan Murphy. He ended New York’s fourth straight win by getting right fielder Ryan Kalish on a groundout to Derek Jeter.
Warren’s high-wire act capped a day where game time temperatures were 43 and 47 degrees respectively.
“Anytime we can two wins in a doubleheader and hold them to zero runs, even better,” Warren said.
Pitching free of pine tar, Pineda allowed four hits in six innings. He could have gone beyond the 89 pitches but the Yankees are still being cautious especially since he is coming off shoulder injuries and the weather was cold.
Pineda allowed three singles through the first five innings before allowing a triple to first baseman Anthony Rizzo. He ended his third start by retiring Schierholtz.
“It wasn’t the best of conditions to pitch in but I thought he did a really good job,” Girardi said.
It might not have been the best of conditions but it was the best outcome for the Yankees, who head to Tampa Bay and Boston for seven games.
Follow Yankees beat writer Larry Fleisher on Twitter @LarryFleisher.