Braves Pound Sabathia, Yankees For 9-6 Victory

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GAME 25
BRAVES 9, YANKEES (SS) 6

LAKE BUENA VISTA – Reserve infielder Omar Infante laced a pinch-hit double to right to score Brent Clevlen in the eighth inning to break a 6-6 tie as the Atlanta Braves defeated a New York Yankees split squad 9-6 on Tuesday at Champions Field.
Reliever Takashi Saito (2-0) pitched a perfect eighth inning to earn the victory. Billy Wagner pitched the ninth to earn his second save of the spring. Zack Segovia (1-1) took the loss.
The Yankees spring record fell to 11-14. The Braves are now 16-9-1.
YANKEE POSITIVES

  • Jorge Posada had a great day with the bat. In the first inning he singled and scored on a Robinson Cano double. In the seventh inning he victimized former teammate Scott Proctor with a two-run home run that tied the game at 6. Posada is batting a robust .394 on the spring.
  • Cano, not to be outdone, had a single along with that RBI double to raise his spring batting average to .354.
  • Nick Swisher collected his first home run of the spring, a solo shot he hit to the opposite field in the second inning.
  • Curtis Granderson and Juan Miranda had back-to-back RBI hits in the sixth inning off relief pitcher Cory Gearrin. Granderson singled in Posada and Granderson drove in Miranda with a double.
  • Brett Gardner stole his sceond base of the spring in the seventh inning off Proctor. He later scored on Posada’s home run.
  • Cano caught a wind-blown pop-up off the bat of catcher Clint Sammons in the second inning and neatly fired to Miranda at first base to double off outfielder Matt Diaz.
THE NEGATIVES

  • No one will say anything publicly but privately the Yankees are concerned about CC Sabathia after he was blasted for eight hits, a walk and five earned runs in 4 2/3 innings by the Braves. Sabathia spring ERA ended up at 7.23 and that does not count the seven runs he gave up to some Philadelphia Phillies minor leaguers in “B” game in his last start. The Yankees are hoping it is just “spring training rust” and not pointing to other potential mechanical or physical problems.
  • Minor-league third baseman was the only non-pitcher and starter in the lineup who did not get a hit in the game. He did not get a ball out of the infield, was 0-for-4 and even hit into a double play in the fourth inning. Though he is buried way behind Alex Rodriguez at third base, Laird is hitting .276 this spring and shows great promise in the field.
  • Segovia pitched a perfect seventh inning and threw only 12 pitches. But in the eighth he walked two consecutive batters after one out before giving up consecutive RBI hits to Infante and Matt Young. After striking out a batter for the second out, Segovia then surrendered a single to reserve infielder Joe Thurston that turned a 6-6 tie into a 9-6 Braves’ lead.
DIAMOND NOTES

Manager Joe Girardi got his wish to see “switch-pitcher” Pat Venditte pitch in a game this spring. Venditte got Sabathia off the hoof from further damage in the fifth inning by retiring Yunel Escobar in the fifth pitching left-handed.Venditte was touched for a run in the sixth as the Braves loaded the bases and Young hit a sacrifice fly to score pinch-runner Mitch Jones. Venditte, who is a 20th-round Yankee draft selection shows a lot of promise as the majors’ only ambidextrous pitcher.  He is more than a novelty. He has the ability to be a pretty good reliever . . . The game drew a standing-room only crowd of 11,112 to Champions Field in Lake Buena Vista, FL, which is part of Disney’s Wide World of Sports complex.  . . . The “Disney Magic” touches are on display here in this fan friendly paradise. Thi
s is the only complex in Florida that has a separate line for fans without bags so you do not have to wait for bag and purse searches to get into the park. Disney employees also cheerfully hand out the days’ starting lineups with a free scorebook page with the batters’ up-to-date spring statistics. Employees also hand out napkins to fans at the condiment stations. They also boast a sixth-inning beer special by sending out vendors selling old-time brands like Miller and Old Milwaukee in 16-ounce cans for $3 apiece. Steinbrenner Field, not that it is in lacking as a first-class facility, should take a page from the Disney customer service playbook.  . . . Our old friend Melky Cabrera started for the Braves in right-field and had a double and infield single in the game. He began the day hitting .263 this spring.  . . . Girardi actually won an argument with umpires in the fifth inning. Troy Glaus, who had a lead-off double in the fourth inning off Sabatha, took Sabathia back to the wall in left-centerfield that was called a home run by second-base umpire Chad Fairchild. However, the ball actually landed on the top of the padding of the wall and Granderson caught it as it bounded back into play. So the umpires conferred and ruled it a double instead.

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