YANKEES 8, METS 3
TAMPA – All good things must come to an end and so it was for the New York Yankees, who lowered the curtain on their 2012 spring training schedule on Wednesday with a victory.
Francisco Cervelli, who moments later would find out he was being sent to the minors, slammed a two-run home run in the seventh inning to tie the game at 3-3 and a bevy of Single-A Yankees later combined to score five runs in the eighth inning as New York downed the Mets in their Grapefruit League finale at George M. Steinbrenner Field.
Cory Wade (1-0) ended his poor spring with a scoreless inning of relief to get credit for the victory. Left-hander Angel Cuan gave up four runs (three earned) on one hit, one walk and two Met errors in the eighth and took the loss.
The Mets jumped out to an early 3-0 lead on a three-run home run from Ike Davis off Yankee starter Freddy Garcia in the third inning. Davis’ walk-off home run in the ninth on Tuesday in Port St. Lucie, FL., gave the Mets a 7-6 victory in this rare home-and-away exhibition Subway Series.
The Yankees ended their spring slate with a record of 18-12 with three ties. The Mets ended up 9-20.
PETTITTE RETURNS TO MOUND
Along with the token victory that evened the series, the highlight of the day was the return to the mound of 39-year-old left-hander Andy Pettitte.
Pettitte entered the game in the sixth inning to a loud and thunderous standing ovation from most of the 10,813 in the crowd.
It took Pettitte just 13 pitches to retire the Mets but he had a little help from catcher Russell Martin.
Pettitte gave up a high-hop single over the head of first baseman Kyle Roller to Corey Vaughn. Scott Hairston popped out to short for the first out. Martin then gunned down Vaughn attempting to steal second. Pettitte then ended his brief stint by inducing Mike Nickeas to ground out to second.
Pettitte then left the mound to another thunderous standing ovation.
- Despite the fact a numbers game ended up with him being sent to the minors, Cervelli gave Yankee fans a nice going-away gift with his two-run home run in the sixth. Cervelli is a very popular player in the clubhouse and with fans because of his outgoing personality. Let’s hope manager Joe Girardi is correct and that Cervelli will be back in the major leagues. Of course, Girardi very carefully did not say Cervelli would be back in the majors with the Yankees.
- Clay Rapada celebrated his day learning he made the team as a second left-hander in the bullpen by pitching a scoreless one-third of an inning. Rapada ended the spring with a 0.90 ERA and he will give Girardi a second option in the bullpen to lefty Boone Logan.
- The starters in the game collected only two hits off Mets starter Dillon Gee. One of them was a lined single to up the middle by Alex Rodriguez in the first inning. Rodriguez had a solid spring, hitting an even .300 with two home runs. A healthy A-Rod throughout the 2012 season is the No. 1 key to the Yankees’ success this season.
- Austin Romine’s back injury caused a ripple effect that now makes the Michael Pineda trade look like a real mistake. The Yankees chose to trade megastar in the making Jesus Montero to the Mariners for Pineda. Now Romine’s immediate future as a catcher is in question and the Yankees were forced to trade pitcher George Kontos for 30-year-old Chris Stewart from the Giants. Because Stewart is out of options, the Yankees will have to keep him on the roster and Cervelli ends up at Triple-A. Factor in that Pineda begins the season on the 15-day disabled list with right shoulder tendinitis and you have what looks to be a lopsided trade of Montero. By the way, Montero hit .328 with two home runs and 13 RBIs for Seattle this spring. Will the trade come back to haunt general manager Brian Cashman?
- The biggest concern for the 2012 Yankees is age. Rodriguez will be 37 and Jeter will 38. Mariano Rivera is 42. Hiroki Kuroda was signed as a free agent and he is 37. Pettitte comes out of retirement at age 39 and the Yankees decide to add a 30-year-old backup catcher over Cervelli who is 26. Pineda is 23 and he is on the DL in favor of 35-year-old Garcia. Age can mean experience and it can be a good thing. But it also can weigh a team down with injuries that take much longer to heal on older bodies. At some point the Yankees will have to get younger. It won’t be 2012.
- My biggest concerns coming out spring training is the ability of Pineda to overcome his shoulder injury. A similar problem shelved Phil Hughes last season. It could also do the same to Pineda. I also was not happy with what I saw from Wade this spring and I think his days could be numbered if he pitches the same way in the regular season. I also am wary of nagging injuries like the ones that slowed Nick Swisher, Martin and Jeter this spring. They have to avoid serious injuries to be successful this season.
The Yankees are one of the more fortunate teams coming out of spring training. They do not have to leave Tampa at the start of the season.
They will open their 2012 season on Friday afternoon against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, FL.
Ace left-hander CC Sabathia will be the Opening Day starter for the Yankees for the fourth consecutive season. He is 9-7 with a 3.10 ERA in his career against the Rays.
The Rays will counter with right-hander James Shields, who was 16-12 with a 2.82 ERA last season. He is 5-11 with a 4.14 ERA in his career against the Yankees.
Game-time will be 3:10 p.m. EDT and the game will be telecast nationally by the MLB Network and locally by the YES Network.