YANKEES 3, BRAVES 1
With veteran left-hander CC Sabathia on the disabled list with recurring pain in his right knee the Yankees have had to place a lot a of trust in 21-year-old rookie right-hander Luis Severino. After seeing the way he pitched on Saturday at Turner Field it looks as if he is going to be just fine.
Severino pitched six innings of shutout baseball and Didi Gregorius and Brian McCann doubled in runs in the seventh and eight innings, respectively, as New York downed Atlanta for the second straight day.
Severino (2-2) held the Braves to four hits and three walks while he struck out five in six innings to earn his second straight victory.
Meanwhile, the Yankees opened the scoring on rookie right-hander Matt Wisler in the first inning.
Jacoby Ellsbury led off with a double and, two outs later, Wisler issued walks to McCann and Greg Bird. With Chase Headley at the plate behind on a 0-2 count, Wisler uncorked a wild pitch that allowed Ellsbury to score to give the Yankees an early 1-0 lead.
Then Severino and Wisler matched zeroes for the rest of the evening until the seventh inning when Headley led off the frame with his third double of the series – a ball that center-fielder Cameron Maybin misjudged.
Gregorius, who drove in a career-high six runs in a 15-4 rout of the Braves on Friday, chased Wisler from the game with an RBI double into right-field to score Headley with what proved to be the game-winning run.
Wisler (5-5) was charged with two runs on four hits and four walks with four strikeouts in six-plus innings.
The Braves managed to halve the lead in the bottom of seventh when Christian Betancourt and Andrelton Simmons opened the inning against left-hander Justin Wilson with a pair of singles.
Pinch-hitter Michael Bourn then hit a ground ball to Bird at first. Bird retired Simmons on a throw to Gregorius at second, but Wilson dropped his relay to first base and Bethancourt scored on the error.
But the Yankees were able to add an insurance run in the eighth inning off right-hander Edwin Jackson when Carlos Beltran was issued a leadoff walk and McCann scored pinch-runner Chris Young with a booming double to the wall in right-center.
Right-hander Dellin Betances pitched 1 1/3 innings of scoreless relief and left-hander Andrew Miller struck out two in a perfect ninth to earn his 28th save in 29 chances this season.
With the victory the Yankees ran their season mark to 71-57 and they remain 1 1/2 games behind the first-place Toronto Blue Jays in the American League East. The Braves dropped to 54-75.
- Severino was far from perfect in his six innings and faced three innings in which the Braves put two men on. However, his poise allowed him to get out of the first by getting Nick Swisher on an inning-ending double play. He ended the fourth by striking out Betancourt swinging and in the sixth he induced Jace Peterson into a groundout. In his five starts, Severino has a dazzling 2.17 ERA and he has 29 strikeouts in his 29 innings.
- In his past three games, Gregorius is 7-for-13 (.539) with a homer and nine RBIs. The 25-year-old shortstop is simply settling in after perhaps pressing too much early knowing that he was replacing a legend in Derek Jeter.
- McCann is providing offense at a time that Mark Teixeira is injured and Alex Rodriguez is only available to pinch-hit in the National League ballpark. His RBI double in the eight gives him a team-leading 80 RBIs this season. Teixeira has 79. In his two games back in Atlanta he is 2-for-5 (.400) with a homer, a double, four walks, three runs scored and five RBIs.
- After Severino left, the Braves jumped on Wilson and Betances for an unearned run, four hits and a walk in two innings. Fortunately, Betances was able to wriggle out of a bases-loaded, two-out jam in the seventh by retiring Freddie Freeman on a ground ball that Betances fielded by sticking his glove behind his back. Betances also ended a two-on, two-out threat in the eighth by striking out Simmons looking. The Braves stranded 10 runners. That is not good relief pitching really.
A man who fell from the upper deck of Turner Field in the seventh inning of Saturday’s game was pronounced dead later in the evening. The Braves announced that Gregory Murrey, 60, of Alpharetta, GA, was pronounced dead at Fulton County Medical Center. Murrey, a longtime Braves season-ticket holder, fell from the upper deck to the lower bowl behind home plate as Rodriguez was coming up to the plate with two on and one out in the seventh inning. Braves security personnel ruled out foul play but authorities are waiting an autopsy.
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YANKEES 3, BRAVES 2
With all the Bronx, the Yankee front office and the coaches having completely chewed off their fingernails all winter worrying about Masahiro Tanaka’s right elbow they can now relax. The Japanese right-hander made his spring debut on Thursday and he looked just fine – really.
Tanaka pitched two perfect dominant innings and Jake Cave’s RBI ground-rule double and Nick Noonan’s sacrifice fly in the bottom of seventh inning propelled New York to a come-from-behind victory over Atlanta at George M. Steinbrenner Field in Tampa, FL.
The Yankees entered the seventh trailing 2-1. With one out and pinch-runners Jonathan Galvez and Jose Pirela on second and first, respectively, Cave laced long double to center that plated Galvez to tie the game at 2-2. Noonan followed with a sacrifice fly to left that scored Pirela from third with the go-ahead run.
Left-hander Justin Wilson (1-0) pitched a perfect seventh inning and recorded two strikeouts to get credit for the victory. Braves right-hander Tyrell Jenkins (0-1) was saddled with the loss. Right-hander Wilking Rodriguez pitched a scoreless ninth and earned a save.
The Yankees improved their Grapefruit League record to 6-4.
Tanaka, 26, looked every bit the same pitcher who was 13-5 with a 2.77 ERA in 20 starts last season. It did not take the Braves too long to see it.
He retired Andrelton Simmons and Alberto Callaspo on routine grounders and struck out Freddie Freeman looking on a pitch that Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez disputed so vehemently that he was ejected from the game after the first pitch of the bottom of the inning by home-plate umpire Dan Iassogna.
Tanaka then opened the second by fanning Jonny Gomes and inducing groundball outs from Christian Bethancourt and Chris Johnson. And that was Tanaka’s evening.
All told he threw only 19 pitches, 15 of them for strikes and he threw first-pitch strikes to four of the six batters. He was so efficient he had to go the bullpen to throw enough pitches to get up the 35 he had been allotted.
“Overall, I think it was good,” Tanaka told reporters through an interpreter. “Probably the best part is that I was able to get first-pitch strikes a whole lot tonight.”
He was clocked as high 94 miles per hour on his fastball and he stayed within 88 to 91 most of the outing. He drew raves from his catcher, Brian McCann.
“He looked great, kind of picking up right where he left off last year,” McCann told reporters. “His sinker tonight was what impressed me the most. He had good downward action on it. His split was there, and he had a couple of quick innings. He was putting the ball where he wanted.”
Manager Joe Girardi now feels relieved to have his ace pass his first test of the elbow.
“You want to get all your starters out there and try to get them going,” Girardi told reporters. “You can’t spend your time worrying about what might be. You just approach every day, you know what you have, and you go forward.”
Tanaka also was glad to have his first outing out of the way.
“I feel better right now,” he told reporters. “I’ve had the time to prepare myself up to this point. It has gone well thus far.”
Now all of Yankee Universe can exhale. The team’s ace is just fine – really.
- The concern about Didi Gregorius has not been his glove or arm because both have been sensational. The real issue has been his bat but Gregorius ripped a leadoff triple into left-center off Braves starter Shelby Miller. The 25-year-old shortstop later scored on a fielder’s choice groundout by Brett Gardner to give the team a 1-0 lead.
- After getting shelled for three runs on six hits in the first inning by the Houston Astros in Kissimmee, FL, on Saturday in his spring debut, non-roster invitee Scott Baker pitched two perfect innings before giving up a one-out double to Bethancourt and two-RBI single to Todd Cunningham in the fifth. Baker, 33, now has a chance to stick with the Yankees due to the right quad injury of left-hander Chris Capuano, who will sidelined for a month.
- Cave, 22, is very quietly have a great spring training. The speedy outfielder is 5-for-9 (.556) with a double and home run and four RBIs. Cave advanced from Class-A Tampa to Double-A Trenton in 2014 and batted a combined .294 with seven homers and 42 RBIs in 132 games.
- Right-hander David Carpenter looked a little shaky in his one inning work against his former teammates. Carpenter was tagged for a pair of singles by Pedro Ciriaco and Simmons to begin the sixth. Callaspo followed with a sac fly to score Ciriaco from third. Carpenter, 29, and left-hander Chasen Shreve were acquired over the winter in exchange for former Yankees No. 1 pitching prospect Manny Banuelos. Carpenter figures to be the primary setup man in the bullpen for Andrew Miller and Dellin Betances.
- I am always being reminded that it is early but Stephen Drew keeps extending his hitting woes. He was 0-for-2 on Thursday and is 1-for-13 (.077) this far. Drew likely will break camp as the team’s starting second baseman. But after he hit a combined .162 with the Boston Red Sox and the Yankees last season he better get going with the bat sooner rather than later.
With the bad news about Capuano’s injury it is about time the Yankees got some good news about their starters. Along with Tanaka’s successful debut the Yankees were encouraged by left-hander CC Sabathia’s 29-pitch simulated session earlier in the day. Sabathia, 34, said he has not felt any pain in his surgically repaired right knee and thinks he is ready to take the next step of starting in an exhibition game. That could come as soon as next Tuesday at home against the Toronto Blue Jays or in Lake Buena Vista, FL, on Wednesday against the Braves.
The Yankees will make their only trip of the spring to Fort Myers, FL, on Friday to face the Red Sox at JetBlue Park.
Right-hander Adam Warren will make his third start of the spring for the Yankees. Warren, 27. has no record and has a 1.80 ERA.
McCann will play along with Garrett Jones, Chris Young and John Ryan Murphy.
The Red Sox will counter with right-hander Rick Porcello, 26, who was acquired from the Detroit Tigers and is 0-0 and with 0.00 ERA after one outing.
Game-time will be 7:05 p.m. EDT and the game will broadcast by the MLB Network.
YANKEES 8, BRAVES 3
LAKE BUENA VISTA, FL – Zoilo Almonte smacked a two-run opposite field home run in the third inning and Robinson Cano added a solo opposite-field shot in the fifth inning as New York opened its 2013 Grapefruit League schedule on Saturday with a victory over Atlanta at Champion Field.
David Phelps (1-0) threw two scoreless innings to pick up the victory. Jordan Walden (0-1) took the loss.
Almonte’s home run touched off a four-run inning aided by two Braves errors, a wild pitch and a passed ball. The Braves did narrow the score to 5-3 in the sixth inning on a two-run homer by Evan Gattis, however, the Yankees put the game away in the seventh with a three-run rally keyed by a bases-loaded two-out, two-run single by Austin Romine.
The Yankees are 1-0 while the Braves fell to 0-2.
- Almonte, 23, made an immediate first impression on manager Joe Girardi with his big home run in the third inning. The switch-hitting outfielder hit 21 home runs last season with Double-A Trenton. Almonte also showed off a terrific arm by throwing out Reed Johnson at third base after he fielded a Freddie Freeman single in the first inning.
- Francisco Cervelli, 27, flashed some superior glove work behind the plate by blocking several pitches in the dirt and he helped out Phelps by throwing out Todd Cunningham attempting to steal second base with a perfect peg to Cano in the second inning. Cervelli is battling Chris Stewart and Austin Romine for the starting catching job this spring.
- Though Phelps, 26, gave up three hits in his two innings of work and he was aided by the throws from Almonte and Cervelli, he still did look sharp. He threw 18 strikes out of his 24 pitches. He also threw first-pitch strikes to seven of the eight batters he faced. Phelps is competing with Ivan Nova for the No. 5 starting spot.
- Brett Marshall struggled a bit in his second inning of work. He walked Dan Uggla, surrendered a double to Gattis and Uggla scored on a groundout off the bat of Chris Johnson. Marshall, 22, was 13-7 with a 3.52 ERA at Trenton last season and was the organization’s best minor-league starter. But the right-hander still needs to work on his command.
- Mikey O’Brien gave up a leadoff single to Freeman and then a one-out homer to Gattis. O’Brien, who will turn 23 on March 3, was a combined 9-8 with a 3.87 ERA between High-A Tampa and Trenton. He also needs a bit of work on command.
- Corban Joseph committed a fielding error in the third inning on a hard-hit ball off the bat of Christian Bethancourt. But Marshall was able to get out of the inning without giving up a run. Joseph, 24, is primarily a second baseman but he also is being tried out at third this spring.
Derek Jeter ran on the infield dirt at George M. Steinbrenner Field in Tampa, FL, for the first time since breaking his left ankle last October. “He ran the bases a bit, slowly,” Girardi said. “He’s at least outside, doing some running, so that’s good.” Jeter has said that he expects to ready to play on Opening Day on April 1 against the Boston Red Sox. In the meantime, Nunez will play shortstop most of the spring and Jeter will be eased into the lineup as a designated hitter.
The Yankees will open their 2013 home Grapefruit League schedule with a contest against a Toronto Blue Jays split squad.
Right-hander Adam Warren, 26, will start for the Yankees. He was 7-8 with a 3.71 ERA in 26 starts with Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre last season. The Jays will start veteran left-hander J.A. Happ.
New acquisitions third baseman Kevin Youkilis and designated hitter Travis Hafner are scheduled to make their debuts with the team.
Game-time will be 1:05 p.m. EST and the game will be broadcast locally by the YES Network and nationally by the MLB Network.