Manny Banuelos missed nearly a month of action with a back injury, but in his return Wednesday, he looked anything but rusty.
Making his first start since April 12, the Yankees' top prospect turned in his best start of the year, yielding two hits over 3 2/3 scoreless innings as the Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees squeaked past the Rochester Red Wings, 2-1.
Banuelos fanned five and did not issue a walk for the second time in 10 career starts at Triple-A. In his first two outings this year, he gave up six runs on 14 hits and seven walks in 5 1/3 innings, compiling a 10.13 ERA. After Wednesday's effort, that mark stood at 6.00.
Banuelos started out strong, working consecutive 1-2-3 innings -- his first two of the season. He struck out three of the first five batters he faced, setting a season high before the end of the second inning.
The 21-year-old left-hander ran into his only trouble at the start of the third, when he surrendered hits to Rene Tosoni and Ray Chang and uncorked a wild pitch, putting runners on the corners with nobody out. He worked out of it, however, by getting a flyout from J.R. Towles, striking out Darin Mastroianni and inducing a groundout from Ben Revere.
Banuelos then retired the only two batters he faced before being replaced by Jason Bulger. The native of Mexico threw 60 pitches on the day, landing 38 for strikes.
Signed as a non-drafted free agent on March 30, 2008, Banuelos posted a 3.75 ERA with 125 strikeouts in 129 2/3 innings between Double-A and Triple-A last year. He was plagued by walks throughout the season, issuing 71 overall and 19 in 34 1/3 frames with Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.
Bulger (1-0) earned the win after yielding one run on two hits in 3 1/3 frames. Cody Eppley, after a recent stint with the big league club, tossed two shutout innings to record his second save.
Veteran Steve Pearce led the Yankees offense by going 2-for-4 with a solo home run. Shortstop Doug Bernier drove in the team's other run with a double in the seventh.