Dellin Betances couldn't remember the last time he won a game. It's been that long.
"It's been awhile, seems like more than a year," said Betances, a hint of relief in his voice. "I don't remember, to be honest. If I look back, maybe August?"
The answer to that question, which Betances rendered irrelevant, was June 26, 2011, when he mowed down New Britain for Double-A Trenton. On Friday, the Yankees' No. 2 prospect finally got his first Triple-A win after holding quasi-visiting Lehigh Valley to one run on one hit over five innings.
"I've gotta keep working hard," he said. "Hopefully, many more to come."
Betances struck out three and overcame a few sloppy moments as he issued four walks in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre's 3-1 win over the IronPigs at Coca-Cola Park.
The 23-year-old right-hander threw 100 pitches, settling down after a rough beginning. He worked a 1-2-3 second and third before slipping out of a bases-loaded jam in the fourth. Betances had given up 20 runs in his previous four starts this season, so the win -- long-awaited -- was welcomed.
"It was great. I had a good defense behind me and I was just trying to work on getting first-pitch strikes," said Betances, who threw 51 of 100 pitches for strikes. "And trying to attack the hitters, let them put it in play."
Betances, a Manhattan native who made two appearances in the Majors last season, is clearly still feeling his way around the mound. He's his biggest critic when it comes to throwing strikes more consistently.
"It's something I've gotta keep working on," he said. "I think that helped me today. I did fall behind on some guys, but I was able to come back and settle in and not over-think too much. Just get the ball over the plate and let the defense work."
Betances walked the game's first batter, speedy veteran and former World Series champion Scott Podsednik, who stole second and came home on Kevin Frandsen's double.
"I walked Podsednik, but I felt real good in the bullpen before, and I walked him on four pitches," Betances said. "I tried to settle in, I fell behind, he hit a line drive double and then after that, I was able to settle in."
Betances struck out Cody Overbeck and set down nine straight batters heading into the fourth, when he walked the bases loaded but got Rich Thompson to ground out to end the threat.
He plunked Frandsen in the fifth before taking a seat with a 2-1 lead.
"I've been working real hard in my bullpens, trying to get everything going," Betances said. "I feel like it's slowly coming. I need to cut down on the walks, get ahead of guys -- that's when I get hurt, when I fall behind. I just need to have a good finish, get over my front side."
Betances endured a rough start to the season -- he allowed two runs over five innings in his debut on April 6 against the IronPigs before getting tagged for eight runs in 3 1/3 frames on April 11 at Buffalo. He allowed five runs in each of his last two starts coming into Friday.
It's also been a very long road trip, which is only going to get longer for the whole Yankees squad -- Scranton/Wilkes-Barre's ballpark, PNC Field, is being renovated, so the team is playing the entire season away from home. The Yanks were actually the home team Friday while playing in the IronPigs' stadium.
"It's crazy man. We've been traveling, I take three suitcases everywhere I go," Betances said. "It's not fun, but we've got to try to go out there and not worry about it, even though it's been rough living in a hotel. You've got to try and forget about it."
And with uncertainty in the Bronx following the struggles of Phil Hughes and Freddy Garcia, plus the loss of Michael Pineda, Betances soon could hear his name alongside that of left-hander Manny Banuelos as midseason help for a pitching staff awaiting Andy Pettitte's 39-year-old arm.
That speculation isn't something Betances follows, and he thinks the Yankees are in good shape anyway.
"I haven't put too much mind on that. I know those guys [Hughes, Garcia] are good pitchers, I'm sure they'll pitch well next time out," he said. "I'm trying to stay within myself at Triple-A, work hard and hopefully, I get the chance to help the team out. But I have to get myself right."
Betances pitched 2 2/3 innings last September with New York and competed for a roster spot in Spring Training. But he's still working on attacking hitters in the Minors.
"I've got to be able to get right and go out there and throw more innings," he said. "I can't just throw five. I feel good and I've got to get more consistent, but I'm glad I was able to get the win. I've got to keep working on it, I know it's something small, but I think it will make a big difference. It's good to get a win, it's been awhile. "