Hansack untouchable in playoff outing
Tosses six hitless innings before reaching pitch count
PAWTUCKET, R.I. -- That Devern Hansack was on a pitch count Thursday night at McCoy Stadium prevented him from making a run at International League history.
The right-hander, making just his second start since coming off the disabled list, didn't allow a hit over six innings against Scranton/Wilkes-Barre yet left the game after throwing 80 pitches. The PawSox bullpen was nearly as untouchable, allowing a pair of hits over the final three innings, but it was enough to preserve a 3-1 victory and even the Governors' Cup opening-round series at a game apiece.
"Phenomenal outing," Pawtucket manager Ron Johnson said. "What can you say? Six innings and no hits against the best team in the league. That was a very, very impressive outing. He dominated that lineup."
Hansack was hit on the right arm by a line drive in his Aug. 17 start against Buffalo and didn't pitch again for 13 days. He threw two innings and 37 pitches against Buffalo on Saturday, but his four-hit, two-run effort in that affair provided no indication he would be so dominant against the Yanks.
While Johnson and the rest of the PawSox would have loved to see Hansack continue, there was no room for gambling.
"We can't forget where we are and what we're about, not with a talent like Hansack," Johnson said. "We're developing people's careers here. To me, you become a bad employee if you lose your head and he runs up 95, 100 pitches. If we're going to do this [win], it's going to be with 24 people."
Hansack left after the sixth, but not until after some dramatic moments. He retired the first two batters he faced and was at 74 pitches before Johnson came out, just about convinced he would lift Hansack and not let him face Juan Miranda. But pitching coach Rich Sauveur lobbied to keep Hansack in for one more batter, and Hansack wasn't about to turn the ball over.
"The choice was tough when I went out to the mound," Johnson said. "Initially, we had talked about [lefty Jon] Switzer coming in to face Miranda. But the props go to Rich, who said, 'Just go out there and see where we are.'"
Though Miranda hit .332 against righties and only .195 against lefties this season, Johnson didn't go to the 'pen. Hansack went to a full count before Miranda rifled a shot down to first on which Gil Velazquez made a diving stop. Velazquez tossed to Hansack, who was able to leave the game with a 2-1 lead and his no-hitter intact.
The Yankees broke up the no-no in the seventh when Ben Broussard beat out an infield hit off Switzer. Broussard hit a sharp grounder into the hole between first and second that Velazquez fielded cleanly. Broussard, however, beat Switzer to first base just ahead of the throw.
Eric Duncan doubled into the right-field corner two batters later, ending Switzer's night. Beau Vaughn came on and induced Chris Basak to ground to third, ending the threat.
Ian Kennedy, meanwhile, was nearly as effective. He scattered five hits and struck out five over seven innings, but the Sox got to him in the third after he issued a one-out walk to Jon Van Every. Joe Thurston singled to right to put runners on the corners before Jason Lane smacked a shot back up the middle that hit Kennedy on the left foot. The ball caromed into left field, allowing Van Every to score.
Jeff Corsaletti added a solo homer in the fourth.
The Yankees did manage to score against Hansack in the fifth. He issued a leadoff walk to Nick Green, who took second on a wild pitch. Duncan's grounder to first moved Green to third before he scored on Chris Stewart's grounder to second.
Released by the Yankees last month, Lane added a solo homer off Zach Kroenke in the eighth to close the scoring before Hunter Jones pitched a scoreless ninth for the save.
Game 3 is Friday at Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.
Kevin Czerwinski is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.