YANKEES 8, BRAVES 3
LAKE BUENA VISTA – There is no better game plan then taking advantage of a struggling pitcher, putting up some early runs, adding to it and coasting to victory. That is exactly what the Yankees did to the struggling Braves on Saturday.
Alex Rodriguez drove in two runs and Mark Teixeira added another RBI as New York took advantage of six walks issued by Jair Jurrgens and beat Atlanta easily in a Grapefruit League game played at Champion Stadium.
Although starter Michael Pineda (1-0) struggled with his command also, he was still able to notch the victory by limiting the damage to just one run on four hits and three walks in 2 2/3 innings.
On the other hand, Jurrjens (0-1) could not command his pitches in the strike zone and gave up three runs on five hits and six walks in 2 1/3 innings.
The Yankees pounded Braves pitching for 15 hits. Jose Gil, Gary Sanchez and Jayson Nix came off the bench to stroke two hits apiece in the late stages of the game as the Yankees pulled out to a 7-1 lead in the eighth inning and cosated the rest of the way.
The Yankees evened their spring record to 4-4 while the Braves are a miserable 1-8.
- Rodriguez continues his fine hitting this spring. His slow grounder to short allowed Brett Gardner to score in the first inning with the game’s first run. He then doubled in Doug Bernier in the second inning to make it 3-1. It is still very early but A-Rod is sporting a .500 spring average.
- Left-hander Cesar Cabral replaced Pineda with two outs in the third inning and retired all four men he faced, striking out two of them. Cabral, 23, is battling three other left-handers (Clay Rapada, Michael O’Connor and Juan Cedeno) for a potential second lefty spot in the bullpen spot. His spring ERA is 2.08
- Gardner used his bat and legs to wreak havoc on the Braves. In the first inning, Gardner turned a walk into a “triple” by stealing second and reaching third on a throwing error by catcher J.C. Boscan on the steal attempt, Gardner then scored on Rodriguez’s groundout. In the second inning his bunt single advanced Bernier to second and he later scored on Rodriguez’s double. Even though Gardner is hitting .214, he is beginning to show signs of coming around with the bat lately.
- Pineda has to locate his pitches better or he will get hurt badly. He threw 27 pitches in the first inning, 15 in the second and 21 in the third before he was removed. The lack of command was the big culprit. General manager Brian Cashman and manager Joe Girardi have been reminding reporters that Pineda is not the team’s No. 2 starter but that he could be a top-end pitcher someday. Pineda is working on adding a change-up to his fastball and slider and he is still a work in progress.
- Despite the fact the Yankees scored eight runs on 15 hits and seven walks they still managed to leave 13 runners on base. Hitting into three double plays did not help.
- Ryan Pope was touched for a pair of runs on two hits and two walks in the eighth inning. Pope, 25, was once highly thought of as minor leaguer but a lot of pitchers have passed him in recent years. He has a early spring ERA of 6.75.
The game drew a sellout, standing-room crowd of 10,755 to Champions Stadium and the weather was perfect – temperatures in the 80s, a light wind and partly sunny skies.
Th Yankees will play their first split-squad game of the season on Sunday.
Phil Hughes will have Girardi watching hom closely as he starts against the Minnesota Twins in Ft. Myers, FL. The starting outfield will make the trip.
Meanwhile, CC Sabathia will make his second spring start against a Phildelphia Phiilies split squad at George M. Steinbrenner Field. Mariano Rivera is scheduled to make his spring debut. The starting infield will play in this game.
Game-time for both games is 1:)% p.m. EDT and the home game will be telecast by the YES Network. The road game will be telecast by the MLB Network on tape-delay.