NATIONALS 10, YANKEES 8
TAMPA — 42-year-old journeyman Matt Stairs laced a pinch-hit ground-rule double to tie the game and Bradley Suttle’s fielding error on Kevin Barker’s grounder allowed the lead run to score in the top of the seventh inning as Washington downed New York at George M. Steinbrenner Field on Saturday.
The Nationals actually pounded Yankee starter CC Sabathia and Joba Chamberlain for eight hits and four walks in 3 2/3 innings to take a 7-0 lead. However, former Yankee Chad Gaudin and reliever Josh Wilkie gave up six hits and one walk to allow the Yankees to come back to take an 8-7 lead in the bottom of the fourth inning.
But the Yankees could not hold it.
Daniel Turpen (0-1) was tagged with the loss. Craig Stammen (2-0) pitched two scoreless innings for the victory and Adam Carr pitched a 1-2-3 ninth to earn a save.
The Yankees dropped to 2-5-1 on the spring and the Nationals improved to 4-2.
- Jorge Vazquez continued his fine hitting this spring with two hits in the game, including a big two-run double in the fourth inning off Wilkie that tied the score at 7-7. Vazquez is hitting a robust .583 with two homers and five RBIs.
- Brett Gardner started the fourth inning off with a ground-rule double to left and scored on a fielding error by Brian Bixler. He then laced a one-out triple to right in the same inning to drive in Vazquez with the lead run to make it 8-7.
- Jesus Montero, who is now the frontrunner to back up Russell Martin at catcher, added two hits and an RBI to raise his spring average to .273.
- With the Yankee pitchers giving up 10 runs it is hard to single out a pitcher, but left-hander Robert Fish pitched two solid innings of scoreless relief after the Yankees took their 8-7 lead.
- Sabathia could not locate his fastball and he paid for it dearly. He faced 15 batters and gave up six hits (including two doubles and home run), walked two and struck out one. He threw 53 pitches and 25 of them were balls. Sabathia told reporters after the game, “I just didn’t have it today.”
- Sabathia has now given up exactly five runs in his second start of the spring in three consecutive seasons with the Yankees.
- Chamberlain was not much better. After ending the third inning in relief of Sabathia, Chamberlain gave up two runs on two hits and two walks.
- Turpen gave up two doubles and hit a batter but was not helped by Suttle’s error that allowed the tie-breaking run to score.
- The Nationals first four batters — Jerry Hairston, Ian Desmond, Ryan Zimmerman and Michael Morse — combined to go 7-for-14, they scored five runs and drove in six.
Francisco Cervelli’s broken left foot has been placed in a boot and it will not removed for four weeks. Cervelli is expected to miss at least six weeks with the spring injury, something of which he is all too familiar. In 2008, Cervelli was involved in a home-plate collision with the Rays’ Eliot Johnson and suffered a broken wrist. In 2009, he was slowed throughout the spring with pneumonia and last season he suffered a concussion when he struck by a pitch from the Blue Jays’ Zech Zincola. . . . Right-hander Andrew Brackman, coming back from a strained groin, threw 10 bullpen tosses and then threw a simulated inning on Saturday. He will get a chance to pitch in a game next week. Brackman, 25, had hopes of making the team this spring but he likely will begin the year as a starter at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. . . . Despite the work at the plate by Vazquez, Eric Chavez still appears to be frontrunner to back up at first and third base because of his defensive skills at third. . . . Montero took a foul tip off a knuckle on his right hand on Saturday but he stayed in the game.
The hard-luck Yankees will hit the road to Kissimmee, FL, on Sunday to meet the Houston Astros for the second time this spring. Phil Hughes will make his second Grapefruit League start for the Yankees. He will be opposed by veteran right-hander Brett Myers.
Game-time will be 1:05 p.m. EST and the game will not be telecast.