NEW YORK — JP Sears made his second spot start of the season in pinstripes on Tuesday night against the Athletics. Much like his first, the young left-hander was dominant.
The southpaw tossed 5.2 scoreless frames against Oakland in a 2-1 victory at Yankee Stadium, allowing just three hits while earning his third MLB win in just his fourth career appearance.
"I was happy with it," Sears said after the game. "The defense played phenomenal tonight. Had one strikeout so a lot of great plays behind me. Jose [Trevino] caught a great game, made some great plays in the field too."
Sears has now thrown 12.2 shutout innings to begin his big-league career. The lefty made New York's Opening Day roster, coming out of the bullpen twice in April. He returned to the Bronx on May 25, making his first career start in a win over the Orioles.
With another spotless start this time around, the left-hander is now just the third pitcher in Yankees franchise history to throw five-plus scoreless innings in each of his first two MLB starts. Right-hander Luis Gil accomplished the same feat during his historic debut last summer. Slow Joe Doyle is the only other hurler to start his pro career on such a high note in pinstripes (back in 1906).
"I thought his stuff was good and obviously to be able to pitch us into the sixth inning, just a huge step-up outing by him," Yankees manager Aaron Boone said after the win. "He's having a great season all around and he's done it every opportunity he's gotten up here. So great job by JP."
In Triple-A, Sears has been magnificent this year as well. The 26-year-old has posted a 1.83 ERA over 10 games with Scranton/Wilkes-Barre in 2022, striking out 50 batters in 39.1 frames. Factor in his four big-league appearances and Sears has given up just eight earned runs in 52 innings. That's good for a 1.38 ERA.
"I think my changeup was just working tonight. I was pounding the bottom of the zone with it," Sears said. "I used my fastball on the top of the zone to kind of get guys off of it. So I think just some executed changeups and just mix enough up and down."
Sears was sent back down to Triple-A after the game, optioned to open a spot that will eventually be filled by left-hander Aroldis Chapman (when he's ready to return from the injured list). Surely Sears would prefer to stick around in the Bronx—and he's proven he has what it takes to get outs at this level—but with a healthy rotation that's been rolling of late, there's simply no place for him at the moment.
Nonetheless, Boone made it clear that Sears has made a lasting impression on the big-league coaching staff this season. He's one of many young arms to be contributing, showcasing the depth of this organization's pitching department.
"JP is a really nice kid, understated smart kid, but he's tough. He's got an edge to him," Boone explained. "He expects to do that when he goes out there. He's come up here every turn he's got, he's obviously delivered."
Sears added that he's just trying to pitch well whenever his number is called. He's relishing an opportunity to soak in those moments with a huge crowd at Yankee Stadium—like when he received a standing ovation coming off the mound in the sixth on Tuesday—but he's more so focused on the catcher, umpire and batter whenever he's out there.
"I'm just gonna show up every time my name is called and I'm gonna fill up the zone and do my best to compete out there," he said.
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