YANKEES 4, ASTROS 4 (10 Innings)
TAMPA – Chris Stewart’s two-out RBI single scored Travis Hafner to key a three-run rally in the sixth that drew the Yankees into a 4-4 tie as New York and Houston played 10 innings to a draw on Tuesday in front of a paid crowd of 10,631 at George M. Steinbrenner Field.
The Yankees trailed 4-0 after the Astros scored three runs in the first inning and a single tally in the fourth off a less-than-sharp CC Sabathia. The ace left-hander was touched for four runs on six hits and three walks in five innings of work.
Meanwhile, Astros right-hander Brad Peacock held the Yankees scoreless until Brett Gardner delivered a two-out, three-run triple to score Eduardo Nunez in the fifth inning. Peacock only surrendered the one run on two hits and two walks in his five innings of work.
The Yankees rallied for the tie against Astros left-hander Wesley Wright and right-hander C.J. Fick in the sixth. Kevin Youkilis followed a leadoff single by Robinson Cano with an RBI double that halved the Astros’ lead to 4-2.
After a Hafner single and an error by Astros right-fielder Brandon Barnes that allowed Hafner to take second, newly acquired outfielder Vernon Wells scored Youkilis on an infield groundout. Stewart then followed three batters later with his RBI single that scored Hafner, however, Astros left-fielder Chris Carter threw out Wells at home plate attempting to score the tie-breaking run.
The Yankees remain 12-17 this spring. The Astros are 13-14.
- After a bit of slump in the middle of spring training, Gardner lately has been much better at the plate. He was 2-for-3 in the game and he is now hitting a solid .310 on the spring. As long as Derek Jeter is recovering from his fractured left ankle, Gardner likely will remain the team’s leadoff hitter.
- Youkilis is proving to be a valuable run producer in the cleanup spot. His RBI single on Tuesday gives him a team-leading 13 RBIs this spring. Discounting his 0-for-9 start, Youkilis is hitting .333 (12-for-36) with five home runs and 13 RBIs. Though Yankee fans were loathe to cheer him earlier there have been a lot of “Youk” cheers being heard around the stadium these past few weeks.
- Five relievers, including Marino Rivera, David Robertson, Joba Chamberlain, Boone Logan and Vidal Nuno, held Houston scoreless on four hits and one walk in the final five innings. Although the Yankees have struggled to score runs this spring, the core the bullpen has been excellent and looks to be ready for the regular season.
- It would seem alarming that Sabathia would be knocked around by a team made up of mostly Triple-A players. But temperatures at game-time were in the mid-50s with a 15 mile-per-hour breeze that made it seem much cooler. Most Yankee fans realize that Sabathia is a warm-weather pitcher and I would not be too concerned about this poor tuneup for his Opening Day start on April 1 against the Boston Red Sox at Yankee Stadium.
- Though he is still hitting .306 on the spring, Ichiro Suzuki was 0-for-4 on Tuesday and he has not been as productive at the plate lately. Pitchers are feeding him a steady diet of breaking pitches and Suzuki has been popping up and rolling out weakly on them. I would not be too concerned about the 39-year-old former Most Valuable Player either.
- Hafner must have read the tea leaves about the Yankees’ latest signings and decided he better get busy with the bat. He was 3-for-4 on Tuesday but his batting average is at .195. The Yankees might very well release him early in the regular season if he fails to produce some power and run production.
The Wells trade rumors proved to be true and he played in his first game on Tuesday, going 0-for-3 with an RBI. He was acquired from the Los Angeles Angels for low-level prospects Exicardo Cayones and Kramer Sneed and cash considerations. Wells, 34, is now expected to be the team’s starting left-fielder to begin the season. The Yankees agreed to paid $13 million of his $42 million contract, all of it coming this season. Wells hit .230 with 11 home runs and 29 RBIs in only 77 games last season with the Angels. He is a career .273 hitter with 259 major-league home runs and he won three Gold Glove awards as a center-fielder with the Toronto Blue Jays. . . . The Yankees also signed veteran first baseman Lyle Overbay to a minor-league contract on Tuesday and they plan to give him a three-day audition to win the first base job. Overbay was released by the Boston Red Sox earlier on Tuesday. Overbay, 36, hit .214 with the Bosox with no home runs and seven RBIs this spring. With starting first baseman Mark Teixeira expected to miss at least a month and a half with a partially torn tendon sheath in his right wrist, the Yankees have looked at outfielder Juan Rivera and corner infielder Dan Johnson as possible replacements. However, Johnson is hitting .063 (2-for-32). . . . Jeter said Tuesday he is disappointed that he will not open the season as the team’s starting shortstop for the first time since the 2001 season. Jeter will be placed on the 15-day disabled list retroactively so that he could return as early as April 6. However, he has been idle since encountering recurring soreness in his surgically repaired left ankle. He will receive more treatment at the team’s spring complex in Tampa, FL, but it is unclear when he will be able to resume workouts. . . . Manager Joe Girardi confirmed on Wednesday that right-hander Phil Hughes will open the season on the 15-day disabled list. Hughes, 26, has not pitched in a single Grapefruit League because of a bulging disk in his upper back. Hughes could be activated as soon as April 6, however, a more realistic date for his return would be April 11. Hughes did pitch three innings against the Pittsburgh Pirates’ Class-A West Virginia team last week and the Yankees will keep him in Tampa until he builds up his arm in order to be able to make a start.
The Yankees travel to Sarasota, FL, to face the Baltimore Orioles in their final road game of the Grapefruit League season.
Right-hander David Phelps (2-3, 3.97 ERA) will be making his seventh start of the spring. Right-hander Jair Jurrjens will start for the Orioles.
Game-time will be 7:05 p.m. and the game will be telecast live by the MLB Network.
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.
YANKEES 3, BRAVES (SS) 0
TAMPA – Just when it looked like the Yankees were looking so bad pitching, hitting and fielding they would not win another Grapefruit League game the stars aligned and everything went right for a change.
The Yankees got two-out RBI hits from Nick Swisher and Melky Mesa, Freddy (The Chief) Garcia and five other Yankee pitchers blanked the Braves on just five hits and the defense played flawlessly as New York downed an Atlanta split squad on sun-plashed Friday afternoon at George M. Steinbrenner Field.
Garcia (1-0) looked sharp in his three innings of work, giving up a hit and a walk and striking out two using his assortment of split-finger fastballs, change-ups and sliders. Garcia threw only 33 pitches and 20 of them were strikes as he took s huge step forward in his battle for a spot in the starting rotation.
Julio Teheran (0-1) took the loss, giving up one run on three hits and one walk and he struck out three batters. Tehetan gave up six home runs in just two innings in his last outing against the Detroit Tigers on Sunday. So even though he lost he probably felt a lot better about this performance.
The Yankees scored a run in the first after first baseman Freddie Freeman could not a complete a double play on a grounder off the bat of Robinson Cano. It allowed Derek Jeter to reach second and Swisher made the Braves pay for the bobble when he laced a double off the base of the left-field wall, allowing Jeter to coast home.
The Yankees added a run off Braves right-hander Cristhian Martinez in the fifth when Jeter drew a one-out walk and advanced to third on a single by Curtis Granderson. Cano then lofted a sacrifice fly to medium center-field to score Jeter.
The Yankees final run came in the seventh with two out. Doug Bernier hit a looping fly into right-center off Braves reliever Adam Russell and he hustled it into a double. Mesa followed with a broken-bat looper to right that dropped in score Bernier and cap the Yankees scoring.
The Yankees improved their spring ledger to 3-4. The Braves dropped to 1-6.
- Garcia appeared as if he were toying with the young Brave hitters – taking a little off this and adding a bit to that, Garcia pretty much used his entire arsenal. He looked excellent in doing so, keeping the Braves off balance through all three innings. This is not good news for Phil Hughes, who must step up his game in order to stay in the running for a starting spot.
- The Yankees’ No. 1 minor-league prospect, 20-year-old lefty Manny Banuelos, tossed a very impressive two innings. He gave up two hits, walked none and struck out three. He struck out Jose Constanza looking with two out and Brandon Hicks at second base in the fifth and he fanned Freddie Freeman on foul-tipped check-swing with Michael Bourn on second and two out in the sixth. Banuelos has drawn nothing but raves since he arrived at camp.
- Rafael Soriano needed just nine pitches to retire the Braves in order in the fourth inning. Soriano has looked sharp in both of his appearances this spring.
- Catcher Russell Martin turned in a gem of a defensive play in the third inning. Leading off the inning, Bourn dropped a bunt down to the left in front of home plate. Martin uncoiled out of his crouch, pounced on the ball, stopped on a dime and threw out Bourn at first.
- I hate to complain on a day when the Yankees did play well but Chris Dickerson had a day to forget as the designated hitter. With one out in the second inning and Martin at third base , Dickerson struck out swinging. In the fourth inning, with two out and Martin at second he struck out looking.
- In that same fourth inning, Eric Chavez committed a bad base-running blunder that cost the Yankees. He doubled to lead off the frame but he was thrown out trying to advance to third on a Martin grounder to shortstop Tyler Pastornicky. The baseball rule states that you do not advance if the ball is in front of you.
- The Yankees were 2-for-8 with runners in scoring position. That is OK when the pitching is good but the Yankees need to get better in these situations so they can be competitive when their pitching is not so good.
After a shutout victory the Yankees got even better news concerning All-Star reliever David Robertson. Tests on Robertson’s right foot indicate he only has a bone bruise and his walking boot will be removed on Sunday. Robertson injured his foot on Wednesday at his home when he slipped on a step carrying some empty boxes. After an initial scan showed some cause for concern, Robertson made two trips to a Tampa hospital on Thursday for X-rays, a CT scan, an MRI and a weight-bearing X-ray on his injured foot. All the tests showed a simple bone bruise. Manager Joe Girardi called the diagnosis “as good as it gets for us.” Robertson will likely miss about a week before he can resume getting ready for th 2012 season. . . . Eduardo Nunez also got some good news on Friday. A CT scan on his bruised right hand was negative. Nunez reported some discomfort in his hand when he took batting practice on Thursday. Nunez was injured when he was struck on the hand on a pitch from the Phillies’ Austin Hyatt on Monday. He will not play on Saturday and is listed as day-to-day. . . . Meanwhile, catcher Austin Romine and first baseman and DH Russell Branyan remain sidelined with back inflammation. There is no timetable for them to play in spring exhibition games.
After playing host to the Braves, the Yankees will visit the Braves at Lake Buena Vista, FL., on Saturday.
The Yankees are scheduled to start 23-year-old right-hander Michael Pineda. He will be making his second spring start. Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira, Brett Gardner and Raul Ibanez will make the trip for the Yankees.
The Braves will start right-hander Jair Jurrjens.
Game-time will be 1:05 p.m. EST and the game will not be telecast.