Kansas City, Mo. Eight years after he was baseball’s overall No. 1 draft pick — eight long years — Bryan Bullington finally has a major-league win.
The soft-spoken right-hander who wondered more than once during long bus rides through the minors if he should find something else to do shut out the defending world champion New York Yankees on two hits through eight innings Sunday afternoon.
Joakim Soria pitched a perfect ninth, the Kansas City Royals beat the Yankees, 1-0, and Bullington felt like, finally, he had arrived.
“Yeah, today it feels like it,” he said. “I’m 29. Creeping up on 30. I’ve been kind of plodding along, been down the last couple of years. It feels really good today, that’s for sure.”
Bullington (1-2) walked one and struck out five to outpitch A.J. Burnett (9-10), who yielded only four hits and one run in eight innings.
“It’s a long time coming,” said Bullington, who was drafted by Pittsburgh in 2002 but also spent time with Cleveland and Toronto before signing on as a minor-league free agent with Kansas City last November.
“I had a few brief (major league) stints,” Bullington said, “but this is the first time I myself believe I belong here and can pitch at this level.”
Alex Rodriguez, who homered in his final three at-bats Saturday night, gave Bullington a scare leading off the second. His drive to deep center drove Gregor Blanco almost to the wall, but A-Rod went down quietly the rest of the way.
“When it left the bat, you could tell he hit it pretty well,” Bullington said. “But there was enough wind coming in that Gregor was able to get back on it.”
It gave Joe Girardi a start, too.
“I thought it was gone when he hit it,” the Yankees manager said.
One day after everyone in the New York lineup got at least one hit in an 8-3 victory, the Yankees, facing a pitcher they’d never seen, were shut out for the sixth time.
Soria pitched a perfect ninth and extended his club record with his 26th consecutive save. He has 33 saves in 35 chances.