YANKEES 7, PHILLIES 4
TAMPA – When it comes to anything positive that Alex Rodriguez does this spring, it will always be couched in very cautious terms. Last spring, Rodriguez was in excellent shape and hit everything in sight but it did not carry over to the 2011 season.
So when Rodriguez hit a screaming line-drive home run to right-center on the first Grapefruit League pitch he saw from Roy Halladay and then followed it up with a single and an RBI double off Joel Pineiro, Rodriguez tried to keep it all in perspective after the game.
“Last year, I stood here and had a really good spring, felt really good and the results during the year weren’t what we all wanted,” Rodriguez said. “[I take it] definitely one day a time. A good start; hopefully the first of many more days to come.”
The same can be said for the Yankees as a whole.
They shook off a two-run home run in the first inning by Hunter Pence, his second two-run shot off the Yankees in two days, to come back to score four unanswered runs as they went on to defeat the Phiilies for the second straight day in the team’s home Grapefruit league opener on Sunday at George M. Steinbrenner Field.
The Phiilies helped the Yankees by committing four errors in the field. The losing pitcher, Pineiro (0-1), was the victim of most of the misplays.
After Pineiro walked Francisco Cervelli on a 3-2 pitch with the bases loaded and two out in the third inning to tie the score at 2-2, the Phillies treated the ball like a hand grenade in the fourth.
Justin Maxwell reached base with one out on a fielding error by third baseman Ty Wigginton. Second baseman Mike Martinez then botched a double-play ball off the bat of Derek Jeter that allowed Maxwell to advance to second while Martinez recovered to retire Jeter. Then Martinez made his second error in as many innings on a ball off the bat of Robinson Cano that allowed Maxwell to score the game’s eventual deciding run.
Rodriguez finished off the error-laden rally with an RBI double to the wall in left field to score Cano.
Rookie right-hander D.J. Mitchell (1-0) pitched two scoreless innings behind starter Freddy Garcia to pick up the victory. Young right-hander Chase Whitley got credit for a save despite the fact he gave up two hits in the ninth.
The Yankees have a 2-0 spring record. The Phillies are 0-2.
- A-Rod’s 3-for-3 day illustrated why it is so important to keep the 36-year-old slugger healthy for a full season. When he is locked in at the plate he remains one of the scariest hitters in baseball to face. Rodriguez was limited to only 99 games last season due to a knee injury and later a sprained left thumb.
- Despite the fact Garcia was tagged for a two-run home run, he still pitched well in his two innings of work. Garcia gave up two runs on four hits. He did not walk a batter and he struck out two. He threw 25 of his 33 pitches for strikes.
- The Yankees teed off on 6-foot-7, 255-pound right-hander Phillippe Aumont for three runs in the seventh inning to extend their lead to 7-3. Jose Gil blasted an RBI double after Domonic Brown dropped a routine fly ball off the bat of Corbin Joseph for a two-base error. Catching prospect J.R. Murphy and Jayson Nix later added RBI singles to close out the Yankees’ scoring.
- Clay Rapada, who is in a four-way battle to become the second left-hander in the bullpen, threw a perfect inning of relief and struck out two batters.
- Cano pulled a base-running blunder that cost the Yankees in the third inning. With one out and Cano on second and Rodriguez at first, Cano drifted towards second base on fly ball off the bat of Mark Teixeira that dropped out of the glove of shortstop Freddy Galvis. Brown picked up the ball in left-field and threw Cano out easily at third base in an odd fielder’s choice from the outfield.
- Yankee pitching gave up a total of 12 hits, five of them for extra bases. The one positive is they only walked one and struck out nine batters. The Phillies hurt their own cause by hitting just 2-for-10 with runners in scoring position and they left the bases loaded in the first inning en route to stranding eight runners overall.
- Relievers Corey Wade and Kevin Whelan each gave up an earned run in their one inning of work. Wade gave up a two-out, two-run double to Galvis in the sixth and Whelan was touched for RBI out by Hector Luna scoring Lou Montanez in the eighth.
The Yankees celebrated their home opener by inviting the George M. Steinbrenner High School band to perform during the pregame show. Haley Swindal performed the national anthem during a flyover by two F18 Hornet jets from Naval Air Station Oceana in Virginia Beach, VA. . . . After a 82-degree day in Clearwater, FL, on Saturday, temperatures dipped to the mid-60s on Sunday in Tampa and a sellout crowd of 10,981 had to brave 20-mph winds blowing from the left-field line to the right-field line.. The wind also played havoc with fly balls for the second straight day, making pop-ups an adventure for both teams. . . . Mariano Rivera and Rafael Soriano are scheduled to pitch a live inning of batting practice on Monday at Steinbrenner Field. Manager Joe Girardi said Rivera will throw one more batting practice session and then will be ready for game action next week. . . . Starting pitcher Hiroki Kuroda pitched a simulated inning on Sunday in preparation for his spring debut Wednesday against the Tampa Bay Rays. . . . Outfielder Cole Garner was sidelined on Sunday with hamstring tightness after homering in the Yankees’ Grapefruit League opener against the Phillies in Clearwater on Saturday. He will be re-evaluated on Monday, Girardi said.
The Yankees will travel to Bright House Field in Clearwater on Monday to take on the Phillies for the third straight day.
Newly acquired right-hander Michael Pineda, 23, will make his Yankee debut as the starting pitcher. David Robertson is among a group of relievers also expected to pitch on Monday. The Yankees also will bring their starting outfield of Brett Garner, Curtis Granderson and Nick Swisher.
The Phillies will counter with with veteran right-hander Joe Blanton. Scott Elarton, Austin Hyatt, Brian Sanches and David Herndon also are scheduled to pitch for the Phillies.
Game-time will be 1:05 p.m. EST and the game will be telecast nationally by the MLB Network.
YANKEES 9, ANGELS 3
That is a word that can apply to both Ivan Nova and Curtis Granderson. Nova is the rookie who was sent down to the minors and who is trying desperately to stay. Granderson is the veteran who had a horrible initial season with the Yankees but is making everyone forget because of his sterling 2011 season.
Both Nova and Granderson played key roles Wednesday night at Yankee Stadium as New York raced to an early and lead and coasted to victory over Los Angeles.
Nova (11-4) pitched his third consecutive solid game with six strong innings and Granderson provided the bulk of the offense with a pair of home runs and four RBIs as the Yankees defeated a pitcher making his major-league debut against them for the first time since July, 2004.
Nova, 24, gave up three runs on five hits and three walks over six-plus innings to take the lead in victories among all rookie major-league pitchers. In his three starts since he was recalled from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, Nova is 3-0 with a 2.61 ERA. With Manager Joe Girardi looking to remove one starter from what is a six-man rotation at the moment, Nova is staking a claim for one of those five spots.
Granderson and the Yankees opened the scoring early on 23-year-old Garrett Richards, who was called up from Double-A Arkansas to make his debut. But jitters and a sellout crowd of 46,967 may have played a part as he walked Brett Gardner and Derek Jeter to begin the game. Two outs later, Granderson connected with a fastball from the right-hander and he deposited it into the bleachers in right-centerfield for his 30th home run of the season, which ties his career high set with the Detroit Tigers in 2009.
Richards then appeared to settle down for two innings. But the Yankees added a pair of runs in the fourth when Robison Cano opened the frame with a triple and Nick Swisher drove him in with a single. Eric Chavez then followed with a double off the wall in right-center to score Swisher.
Granderson added a run in the fifth with a one-out solo home run off Richards again, this time it landed in the second deck down the right-field line. Granderson now has has a career-high 31 home runs and 91 RBIs on the season.
Richards (0-1) pitched five innings, giving up six runs on six hits and two walks and he struck out two.
Nova was touched for a solo home run off the bat of Peter Bourjos in the fifth and he was chased in the seventh after he gave up a walk to Torii Hunter, a single to Mark Trumbo, an RBI single to Vernon Wells that scored Hunter and a walk to Alberto Callaspo to load the bases. Before the sixth inning, Nova had recorded 14 of his 18 outs on ground balls.
Rafael Soriano was summoned from the bullpen to replace Nova. He did allow Trumbo to score but the Yankees gladly gave up the run to complete a Jeter to Teixeira double play. Soriano then retired Jeff Mathis on a flyout to end the threat.
The Yankees meanwhile tacked three more runs on the board off reliever Joel Pineiro. Cano struck the big blow in the seventh with his 19th home run of the season, a two-run lined shot to the opposite field in left-center.
With the victory, the Yankees improved their season record to 70-45. They also gained a full game on the first-place Boston Red Sox in the American League East as the Minnesota Twins defeated Jon Lester and his teammates 5-2 at Target Field. The Yankees now trail by 1 1/2 games. The Angels, meanwhile, fell to 64-53.
- Nova was unable to locate his slider at all. So he was forced to rely on his sinking fastball and curveball exclusively. Catcher Russell Martin said Nova’s stuff was the worst he has had since he was recalled but the decision to scrap the slider showed how much Nova has matured as a pitcher in a short time. His effort means Girardi must decide to trim a starter from between Phil Hughes and A.J. Burnett.
- Granderson showcased his unbelievable revival season to a national TV audience on ESPN. Though most pundits believe Adrian Gonzalez of the Red Sox is the front-runner for the A.L. MVP award, Granderson is giving the first baseman a run for his money with his magnificent season. To have 31 homers, 91 RBIs, a major-league-leading 104 runs scored and a .275 average with 22 stolen bases in early August is not too shabby.
- Cano is beginning to rediscover his home run stroke. He has three home runs in his last seven games and he is 10-for-28 (.357) with seven RBIs over that span. Five of his 10 hits have been for extra bases. Cano is batting .343 in August and has raised his average to .299.
- Soriano is proving his arm is sound after returning from two months on the disabled list with right elbow inflammation. In his five appearances, Soriano has not given up a hit or a run in his five innings of work. He also has not walked a batter and struck out five. His presence deepens the bullpen and takes some pressure off David Roberston and Mariano Rivera.
There is not much to criticize tonight. Nova pitched well, the offense got untracked early and there were some exceptional defensive plays that helped the Yankees maintain their lead. Breaking their three-game losing streak was very much needed.
Alex Rodriguez will get back into action on Friday as the designated hitter at a minor-league game in Tampa, FL. Rodriguez, who is recovering from right knee surgery to repair a torn meniscus, will either play for the Class A Advanced Yankees or the Gulf Coast League Yankees and then play third base in a game on Saturday. The Yankees hope to activate Rodriguez on their road trip to Kansas City that begins on Monday. . . . For the third consecutive game, Chavez was inserted as the designated hitter against a right-handed starter instead of Jorge Posada. With Andruw Jones drawing the DH duties against left-handers, it appears Posada, who is hitting .167 in August after hitting .217 in July, is without a defined role on the team. . . . Despite blowing his fifth save of the season on Sunday and losing his second game of the season on Monday, the Yankees are not concerned about Rivera. Despite the back-to-back setbacks, Rivera is 1-2 with a 2.23 ERA and 29 saves in his 46 appearances.
The Yankees will try to win the rubber game of theie three-game home series against the Angels on Thursday.
Bartolo Colon (8-6, 3.33 ERA) will get the start for the Yankees. Though Colon lasted only 4 2/3 innings on Friday against the Red Sox, he gave up only two runs on six hits in a game the Yankees won 3-2. Colon beat the Angels on June 5 in Anaheim, giving up three runs on six hits in 5 1/3 innings. He is 7-5 with a 3.25 ERA against them since 2001.
Colon will be opposed by Angels rookie right-hander Tyler Chatwood (6-8, 4.10 ERA). Chatwood has given up 11 runs over 11 2/3 innings in his last two starts. He has just one win since June 25. He has never faced the Yankees before.
Game-time will be at 1:05 p.m. EDT and the game will be televised by the YES Network.