YANKEES (SS) 3, PHILLIES (SS) 0
TAMPA – Every team looks for what could be called that “Goldilocks Game,” meaning they get just the right amount of hitting and pitching. The Yankees had one of those games on Sunday.
Chris Dickerson stroked a two-out, bases-loaded single to drive in two runs in the fourth inning and CC Sabathia and Mariano Rivera were among the seven pitchers who held the Phillies scoreless on just three hits as New York left Philadelphia with some mighty cold porridge in a Grapefruit League contest at George M. Steinbrenner Field.
In his second appearance of the spring Sabathia gave up two hits and a walk and fanned two batters in his thee innings of work. He threw 28 of 39 pitches for strikes and looked vastly improved from his first outing.
Meanwhile, the strains of “Enter Sandman” blared throughout the stadium in the fourth inning as Rivera trotted in to a raucous standing ovation from most of the 10,810 fans in attendance, who are unsure of these one-inning tune-ups from the greatest closer baseball has ever seen will come to an end this year.
Rivera then demonstrated what he does so well. He needed just 14 pitches to induce a flyout to right by Ty Wigginton, a line-drive out to center by Lou Montanez (as part of a 11-pitch battle and a groundout to third by Hector Luna.
Dickerson’s hit came off Phillies right-hander Austin Hyatt, who entered the game in the fourth and got into trouble after retiring the first two batters.
Hyatt (1-1) hit Russell Martin with a pitch and Martin later stole second. Hyatt then walked Andruw Jones and Bill Hall to load the bases. Hyatt fell behind to Dickerson 2-0 before Dickersomn slapped his next offering into right-field to score Martin and Jones.
The Yankees added an unearned run in the eighth on a one-out double by Justin Maxwell and a fielding error by Luna that allowed Maxwell to score.
Rivera was the winning pitcher and Hyatt took the loss. Right-hander Kevin Whelan pitched a perfect ninth to get credit for a save.
- Pitching was king for the Yankees. Sabathia looked sharp, Rivera was Rivera and Boone Logan, Corey Wade, Clay Rapada, Chase Whitley and Whelan combined to give up just one hit and two walks and they struck out five. Granted, it was a Phillies split squad, but it was impressive nonetheless.
- Dickerson, 29, has always been considered a good fielder and a good athlete but he has never quite made it in the major leagues as a hitter. It was nice to see him come through with two outs with a big hit. He is hitting .273 this spring but his chances with the Yankees are bleak. He was taken off the 40-man roster and he is out of options. Dickerson may be playing for a fresh start with another team.
- Martin stole his fourth base this spring in the Yankees’ two-run fourth inning. He leads the team in stolen bases this spring. Brett Gardner has two.
- Derek Jeter was 2-for-3 in the game and he is hitting .308 this spring. Perhaps the Jeter of the second half of last season is the Jeter we will see in 2012.
I can’t really see a point in nitpicking for negatives in this game.
Backup infielder Eduardo Nunez is still feeling discomfort in his bruised right hand. He will take two days off before trying to hit again. Nunez was struck in the hand on a pitch from Hyatt on Monday in Clearwater, FL. X-rays and a CT scan show no broken bones but Nunez has been unable to taking batting practice without feeling pain.
The Yankees will play their first night game of the spring on Monday, hosting the Houston Astros at George M. Steinbrenner Field.
Hiroki Kuroda will get the start for the Yankees. It was be his second outing of the spring. Kevin Weiland, who was acquired from the Red Sox, will make his first start for the Astros.
Game-time will be 7:05 p.m. EDT and the game will not be telecast.
PHILLIES 9, YANKEES 3
Hector Luna cracked a bases-clearing double in the sixth inning to cap a six-run rally as Philadelphia defeated New York in a Grapefruit League contest on Monday at Bright House Field in Clearwater, FL.
Phillies right-hander Austin Hyatt (1-0) pitched two innings and got credit for the victory in relief despite the fact he gave up two runs that gave the Yankees a 2-1 lead heading into the sixth. Yankees right-hander Adam Miller (0-1) took the loss after facing six batters and not retiring one of them.
Reserve infielder Mike Martinez, who misplayed three ground balls in a 7-4 loss to the Yankees on Sunday, added a two-run home run in the seventh inning off left-hander Juan Cedeno.
The Yankees are 2-1 in Grapefruit League play. The Phillies are 1-2.
- Michael Pineda, who was acquired by the Yankees in the trade with the Seattle Mariners for Jesus Montero, made his spring debut for the Yankees and looked sensational. Pineda gave up one hit and struck out two in his two innings of work, throwing 19 of his 30 pitches for strikes. Pineda’s highlight was fanning veteran Jim Thome in the first inning on a high fastball.
- The Yankees scored their first run without the benefit of a hit off Hyatt in the fifth. Russell Martin worked a leadoff walk and Hyatt then struck Eduardo Nunez on the right hand with a pitch. Martin advanced to third on a fly ball off the bat of Bill Hall and he scored on a sacrifice fly by Jayson Nix. The Yankees scored in the following inning because of more shoddy Phillies fielding. Brett Gardner’s fly ball to left was misjudged by left-fielder Domonic Brown and the ball then caromed off the knee of center-fielder Tyson Gillies and rolled to the left-field wall. Gardner was attempting to slide into third when second baseman Kevin Frandsen’s relay throw got past Luna at third and Gardner ran home on what was scored as a triple and a throwing error on Frandsen.
- The Yankees have no real jobs open but they have been very impressed with the bat of 22-year-old outfielder Zoilo Almonte. Almonte did it again on Monday. In the seventh inning he delivered a two-out, bases-loaded single off right-hander Brian Sances to score Brandon Laird with the Yankees’ third run. Almonte had four RBIs in Friday’s 11-0 exhibition victory against the University of South Florida. In his three games against the Phillies he is 3-for-3 with three RBIs. Almonte hit a combined .276 with 15 home runs and 77 RBIs in 116 games with Single-A Tampa and Double-A Trenton.
- Reliever Ryan Pope looked good in the final 1 2/3 innings of the game. He retired all five batters he faced and fanned two. In a day when Miller and Cedeno combined to give up eight runs, Pope was a godsend.
- Miller looked terrible in his Yankee debut. The former Indians prospect was signed on Jan. 4 as a free agent. Miller’s progress was delayed after he suffered ligament damage in his right finger that forced him two miss two seasons. Miller opened the sixth with a 2-1 lead and he gave up a leadoff single to Jim Thome. Thome was replaced by pinch-runner Juan Pierre but catcher Gustavo Miolina nabbed him attempting to steal second. Then the roof caved in for Miller. He walked Scott Podsednik, Ty Wigginton and Brown in succession. Erik Kratz followed with a RBI single and Miller forced in another run by hitting Frandsen with his next offering. Girardi then removed him.
- Cedeno, the pitcher who replaced Miller, is among four lefties vying for a bullpen spot on the team. He has some work to do because in relief of Miller in the sixth he gave up a sac fly to Freddy Galvis, walked Gillies and then gave up a bases-loaded double to Luna that broke the game open. The following inning he gave up a two-run home run to Martinez.
- David Robertson did not look sharp in his spring debut. After retiring the first two batters, he walked Jimmy Rollins and Rollins made him pay by stealing both second and third base. Rollins then scored the game’s first run on a sharp single up the middle by Placido Polanco.
The only real good news from Monday’s game was that X-rays on the right hand of Nunez were negative for a break. Nunez had swelling and pain but the injury is not considered serious and he is listed as day-to-day. . . . For all intents and purposes the battle for the backup catcher spot behind Martin is over. The back injury suffered by Austin Romine will put him so behind Francisco Cervelli that he will not be able to win the job. Manager Joe Girardi said the Yankees want to take a cautious approach with Romine’s back because it is a recurrence of an injury he suffered last season at Double-A Trenton. Girardi told Romine it would better for him to rest now and clear up the problem rater than have it crop up again later in the season. . . . For the first time this spring, the Yankees played a game in which the wind was not howling and became a factor in the game. Temperatures were in the upper 60s and the wind was blowing in from center-field at just 5 mph. That was likely good news for the players and the crowd of 9,956 that attended the game at Bright House Field.
After winning two of three in their opening series with the Phillies, the Yankees travel to Bradenton, FL, to play the Pittsburgh Pirates on Tuesday.
The Yankees plan to start ace left-hander CC Sabathia and right-hander Phil Hughes is also scheduled to pitch. The Yankees will bring their starting infield of Mark Teixeira, Robinson Cano, Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez to the game.
Game-time will be 1:05 p.m. EST and the game will not be broadcast on television.
YANKEES 8, PHILLIES 5
Jorge Vazquez rolled a sharp single into right-field to score Cole Garner from second base to break a 2-2 tie in the sixth inning as New York opened its 2012 Grapefruit League season on a wind-swept Saturday with a victory over Philadelphia at Bright House Field in Clearwater, FL.
Twenty-year-old rookie left-hander Manny Banuelos (1-0) pitched two scoreless innings to get credit for the victory. Veteran left-hander Dontrelle Willis took the loss for the Phillies.
Curtis Granderson was 2-for-2 with a double, a solo home run and two runs scored to pace the Yankees’ attack early. Garner added a two-run home run off reliever Chad Qualls in the seventh inning and outfielder Zoilo Almonte, who had four RBIs in Friday’s 11-0 exhibition victory against the University of South Florida, added a pinch-hit, two-run double in the ninth to cap the Yankees’ scoring for the afternoon.
- Granderson is off to fast start this spring. He singled in his only at-bat on Friday against USF and is 3-for-3 with two runs scored and two RBIs. Granderson had a career season in 2011 with 41 home runs, 119 RBIs and 136 runs scored.
- Ivan Nova started for the Yankees and gave up one hit, no walks and struck out two batters in his two innings of work. Unfortunately, two errors (including his own error on a pickoff throw) did not help his cause and the only hit he surrendered was a two-run home run to right-center by Hunter Pence off a 3-0 fastball in the first inning. Nova was still pleased with the outing, particularly his second inning.
- Former Phillie Raul Ibanez got back at his old team by hitting a bloop double on the left-field foul line off the Phillies’ left-handed starter Cole Hamels that scored Granderson with the game’s first run. Ibanez figures to be the Yankees’ designated hitter against right-handers this season.
- Garner, Almonte, Vazquez and Dewayne Wise all came off the bench to drive in runs for the Yankees and all the team’s eight runs were scored with two outs. Vazquez stroked his single off Willis on a 1-2 count and that hit stood up as the game-winning RBI. Garner’s two-run home run was blasted straight down the left-field line and somehow stayed fair. Wise preceded Garner’s home run with an RBI double to right-center. Almonte’s two-run double to right-center came off reliever Mike Stutes.
- The first ball of the spring hit to shortstop Eduardo Nunez off the bat of Shane Victorino skipped past him for an error and Victorino later scored an unearned run on Pence’s homer. Nunez led the team in 2011 with 21 errors in roughly half the playing time of the infield starters.
- Though Banuelos was credited with the win, fellow rookie Dellin Betances and he did not show much in the way of command of their pitches. After a 1-2-3 fifth, Banuelos gave up a single to Tyson Gillis and then walked Laynce Nix and Hector Luna with two out before retiring John Mayberry Jr. to leave the bases loaded, Betances walked the first two batters he faced before retiring Kevin Frandsen on a double play and Freddy Galvis hit a fly-ball out to center to end the seventh.
- Former Met Michael O’Connor got off to a bad start in his quest to make the team as a second lefty in the bullpen. He was tagged for three hits and he walked another batter as he gave up three runs in the bottom of the ninth. The big blow was a two-run homer off the bat of Frandsen.
The game was played under sunny skies and 82-degree weather. However, a 20-mph wind with much higher wind gusts blowing out to left contributed to the two home runs each by both teams and led to some adventurous paths by fielders on high pop-ups. . . . A sellout crowd of 10,539 turned out for the Phillies’ home opener at Bright House Field. . . . When Ibanez stepped to the plate in the first inning, some fans cheered and others appeared to have been booing. However, Ibanez was unsure if the fans were chanting “Raul” and not booing at all. Ibanez, 39, was allowed to leave the Phiilies as a free agent and he was signed a few weeks ago by the Yankees to a one-year contract. . . . The game was broadcast nationally by MLB Network through Comcast Sports of Philadelphia and the Phillies’ television broadcasters described the game.
The Yankees continue their home-away-home three-game series with the Phillies on Sunday at George M. Steinbrenner Field in Tampa, FL.
Veteran right-hander Freddy Garcia will start the game for the Yankees. Garcia, 35, is vying for a spot in the rotation after a season in which he was 12-8 with a 3.62 ERA in 25 starts for the Yankees. As part of the opening ceremonies, the Yankees will wear their pinstripe uniforms and they are scheduled to open with their 2012 projected starting lineup.
The Phillies will counter with 34-year-old right-hander Roy Halladay, who is coming off a season in which he was 19-6 with a 2.34 ERA for the Phillies. Joel Pineiro, David Purcey, Antonio Bastardo and Phillippe Aumont are also scheduled to pitch for the Phillies.
Game-time will be 1:05 p.m. EST and the game will be broadcast nationally by MLB Network and locally by the YES Network.