YANKEES 8, NATIONALS 5
During a time when a lot of the starters are struggling with hitting this spring the non-roster and minor-league players who dominated the Yankees’ lineup on Thursday were the ones who came up big.
Bill Hall drove in two runs with a double in the third inning and New York’s spring reserves scored four runs in the seventh inning off Washington’s John Lannan en route to a Grapefruit League victory over the Nationals at Space Coast Stadium in Viera, FL.
Brett Marshall (1-0) got credit for the victory in relief. Lannan (0-1) gave up six runs (four earned) on seven hits and a walk in four innings and he ended up taking the loss. Adam Warren retired the last batter and picked up a save.
The Yankees mounted a 13-hit attack led two hits by Hall and Justin Maxwell and Hall and Jose Gil each drove in two runs.
There were two significant injuries incurred during the game. Nationals starter and former Yankee right-hander Chien-Ming Wang had to leave the game in the third inning with a strained right hamstring after he lost his balance fielding a Russell Martin grounder and stumbled awkwardly over the first-base bag.
In the fourth inning, Yankee shortstop Ramiro Pena left after spraining his right ankle as he slid into second base on an unsuccessful steal attempt.
The Yankees snapped a three-game losing streak and improved their spring record to 6-8. The Nationals are 5-6.
- The Yankees were losing 3-2 with Lannan beginning his third inning of work in the sixth when the Yankees greeted him with five consecutive hits. Jayson Nix singled, stole second and scored the tying run on a RBI single by Gil. Doug Bernier advanced Gil to third on a bunt single and Maxwell scored Gil on a single to left. J.R. Murphy followed with a single to right to score Bernier. Maxwell then scored the fourth run of the inning on a fielder’s choice grounder off the bat of Zoilo Almonte. Nix is the only player involved in the rally who had started the game.
- The Yankee reserves turned the game into a rout with two more runs in the seventh. Brandon Laird, who reached base on an error by shortstop Andres Blanco, scored on a passed ball by catcher Jhontan Solano. Dewayne Wise, who doubled in the inning, later scored on a sacrifice fly by Gil, giving the Yankees an 8-3 lead.
- Michael Pineda made his third start of the spring and there were some mixed results. Pineda pitched 3 2/3 innings and gave up two runs on four hits and a walk while he fanned four batters. The good news was that Pineda was able to throw about 10 change-ups and his slider was virtually unhittable. The velocity on his fastball, however, reached only 91 miles per hour, down considerably from his 2011 average of 94.5, which ranked fifth in the majors. The Yankees refuse to talk about it, but the lack of velocity has to be a concern at this stage of spring training.
- Three of the left-handers competing to become a potential second lefty in the bullpen pitched in the game and none of them were exactly sharp. Clay Rapada did not give up a run in 1 1/3 innings and has a 0.00 ERA this spring. However, he walked two and gave up a hit before inducing Chad Tracy to ground out with the bases loaded in the fifth.
- Juan Cedeno opened the sixth by issuing a leadoff walk to Adam LaRoche and Jayson Werth followed with a double. Then with one out, Steve Lombardozzi hit a sacrifice fly to score LaRoche.
- Michael O’Connor opened the ninth with a 8-5 lead and promptly issued a leadoff walk to Roger Bernadina and one-out single to Mark Teahan to bring the tying run to the plate. After O’Connor retired Tracy on a grounder to advance Bernadina and Teahan, manager Joe Girardi summoned Warren to close out the game.
With Eduardo Nunez still nursing a bruised right hand for the past 10 days, the injury to Pena is not good news. Pena said he hopes to miss only two or three days by Girardi said he is not so sure about that. No tests are planned on the ankle and Pena will be re-evaluated in Tampa, FL., on Friday. . . . It appears doubtful that veteran right-hander Fraddy Garcia will be able to pitch in his next scheduled start because of a bruised right thumb and index finger. Garcia was struck on the hand on a grounder off the bat of Edwin Encarnacion of the Blue Jays in the fourth inning of a game on Wednesday. The Yankees think Garcia just has a bad bruise and they do not believe the injury is serious.
The Yankees will complete a two-game home-and-away series with the Nationals at George M. Steinbrenner Field on Friday.
Ace left-hander CC Sabathia is scheduled to pitch for the Yankees. He will be making his third start of the spring. The Nationals will start former Oakland left-hander Gio Gonzalez, who has not given up a run in his two previous appearances spanning seven innings.
Game-time will be 1:05 p.m. EDT and the game will be telecast nationally by the MLB Network on tape delay and locally live by the YES Network.
- A.J. Burnett looked very sharp in his four innings of work in his third spring start. He gave up a single to Adam LaRoche in the second inning and Michael Morse followed with a two-run homer to tie the game. Otherwise, Burnett was very good. He struck four and walked none and he lowered his spring ERA to 2.00.
- Jorge Vazquez is an out-and-out hitting machine. He was 3-for-3 in the game (accounting for half of the Yankees’ six hits), including his third spring home run. Vazquez connected off Nats starter John Lannan for a two-run home run to left-center in the fourth inning. He previously victimized Lannan with a two-out RBI single in the first.
- Robinson Cano opened the Yankees’ scoring in the first with a two-out flare RBI single to left that scored Eduardo Nunez. Cano also blasted what originally was called a triple to center-field in the sixth off Maya. However, it clanked off Roger Bernadina’s glove and the hit was changed to a three-base error.
- Once again, minor-league pitchers coming in late in games are giving up leads, runs and victories. Warren entered the game in the ninth and was victimized by a two-base throwing error by Nunez. Manager Joe Girardi summoned lefty Robert Fish to face Rick Ankiel. Ankiel bunted pinch-runner Morgan to third and Fish then hit Bryce Harper with an 0-2 pitch. Fish tried to induce a double play from Alberto Gonazlez but he ended up walking him intentionally. Girardi then summoned right-hander Daniel Turpen to face the lefty Bernadina. However, Nationals manager Jim Riggelman sent the right-handed-hitting Norris to pinch-hit. Turpen got ahead 0-2 and — instead of wasting a pitch — he grooved a pitch over the plate that Norris hit to the wall in left-center to end the game.
- Nunez and Ramiro Pena really hurt the Yankees with a pair of failed bunt attempts. Brett Gardner opened the seventh inning with a double but Nunez not only could not advance Gardner with a bunt, he stuck out. In the eighth inning, Pena came to the plate after Gustavo Molina had walked and Vazquez singled. He failed to get two bunt attempts down and ended up being retired on an infield pop out.
- As it has been all spring, the Yankees lose when they do not hit with runners in scoring position. They were 2-for-11 in the game on Saturday.
Joe Girardi threw down the gauntlet. The question is did Chien-Ming Wang throw enough pitches down on Wednesday night to save his job.
is 0-2 with a 5.86 ERA.