Tagged: Justin Maxwell

Mets’ Davis Hits Walk-Off Blast To Nip Baby Yanks

GAME 32

METS 7, YANKEES 6

They may be two teams that play in the same city and they may be headed in completely opposite directions in 2012 but on Tuesday they renewed a spring ritual they had ignored for 16 years.

Mets staring first baseman Ike Davis homered with one out in the ninth inning off a 21-year-old right-hander who pitched in the Sally League last season in Mark Montgomery as the Mets broke a 6-6 tie and won a Grapefruit League game in walk-off fashion against a lot of minor-league Yankees at Digital Domain Park in Port St. Lucie, FL.

Justin Hampson (1-0) pitched two-thirds of a scoreless inning in the top of the ninth to get credit for the victory.

The Yankees trailed 5-0 after three innings as the Mets folded, spindled and mutilated Yankees right-hander Ivan Nova.

But the Yankees rallied with a solo home run from Nick Swisher in the fouth inning and a five-run sixth inning in which they sent 10 batters to the plate and mustered seven hits against Mets left-hander Jonathan Niese to take a 6-5 lead.

Doug Bernier’s single to left to score J.R. Murphy tied the game and Chris Dickerson followed with a RBI single of his own to score Abraham Almonte with the lead run.

The Mets then tied it back up in the bottom of the sixth on an RBI single by Justin Turner.

The Yankees’ spring ledger dropped to 17-12 while the Mets completed their spring with a 9-19 record.

PINSTRIPE POSITIVES

  • Swisher was 2-for-3 with a home run and a double. Despite being nagged for two weeks with a sore left groin, Swisher has recovered physically and is hitting a red-hot .345 this spring. Swisher hopes to avoid the horrendous two-month slump with which he began the 2011 season.
  • David Phelps and D.J. Mitchell both came on in relief in the game auditioning for a potential long-relief role in the bullpen. Phelps pitched a scoreless 1 1/3 innings, giving up a hit, no walks and striking out two batters. Mitchell pitched innings, giving up one on two hits and one walk and he fanned one. Adam Warren also is in the running despite giving up six runs on 10 hits in 5 2/3 innings to the Astros on Saturday.
  • Bernier was 2-for-3 in the game with an RBI and is hitting .361 this spring. With Derek Jeter, Eduardo Nunez and Ramiro Pena ahead of him on the depth chart he will not make the Yankees. However, the 30-year-old veteran may stay in the Yankees organization and become a coach or minor-league instructor. Someday Bernier might make a very good manager.

NAGGING NEGATIVES

  • It is hard to sugarcoat it and I won’t. Ivan Nova flat-out stunk up the city of Port St. Lucie. He was tagged for five runs on eight hits, two walks and two hit batters in only 2 2/3 innings of what you really could not call work. Nova’s command of his fastball was nonexistent and he was leaving his breaking pitches up in the zone to get whacked all over the park. He gave up three runs on five hits in the first inning and it did not get much better after that. Nova ends spring training with a 8.06 ERA. If he pitches like this in the regular season then we can’t see Andy Pettitte come back soon enough.
  • The Yankees only brought two starters, Swisher and Brett Gardner, to this game so it is hard to criticize much. But Gardner did not exactly set the world ablaze this spring. He was 0-for-3 on Tuesday and that lowered his spring average to .204. Gardner also showed an inability to get some bunts down this spring. How long will it take him to learn this skill to take advantage of his speed?

BOMBER BANTER

Manager Joe Girardi seeemingly can’t make up his mind about Pettitte pitching in a Grapefruit League game. Girardi first said no. Then he dangled a possibility that Pettitte would pitch an inning on Tuesday. Now Girardi thinks Pettitte might pitch an inning in the Yankees’ spring finale on Wednesday. Girardi said he wants to talk to Pettitte to see how he feels before he decides to use him.  . . .  Alright, Yankee fans make your plans to watch the Bombers win their 28th world title in 2012. Kentucky won the NCAA basketball championship on Monday. In the Wildcats’ previous six championship seasons (1949, 1951, 1958, 1978, 1996 and 1998) the Yankees have won the World Series.  So shall we start printing those World Series tickets now?  . . .  After Wednesday’s finale the Yankees have a 5 p.m. deadline to cut the roster to 25 players. It appears Mitchell, Phelps or Warren will earn a spot in the bullpen (However, Warren is longshot because he is not on the 40-man roster). Clay Rapada seems to have a spot in the bullpen won with his excellent spring. The only other business is to determine what the team will do with Bill Hall, Jayson Nix and Dewayne Wise. Plus, the Yankees have to determine what to do with Justin Maxwell, who is out of options and can only go back to the minors if he clears waivers. But after the hot spring Maxwell had that is very unlikely.

ON DECK

The Yankees will finish what has been an eventful and successful spring camp on Wednesday against the Mets at George M. Steinbrenner Field.

Freddy Garcia, who is sporting a 2.92 ERA in his four spring starts, is expected to pitch for the Yankees. The Mets will counter with right-hander Dillon Gee.

Game-time will be 12:05 p.m. EDT and the game will be telecast nationally by the MLB Network and locally by the YES Network.

 

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Yankees Rally From 6-1 Hole To ‘Wisecrack’ Phils

GAME 28

YANKEES 13, PHILLIES 9

TAMPA – Dewayne Wise led off the bottom of the seventh inning with a solo home run to break a 7-7 tie as New York rallied from an early 6-1 deficit to overtake Philadelphia on Friday in an exhibition game at George M. Steinbrenner Field.

Wise, who entered the game in the top of the seventh, added a two-run home run in the eighth inning to pace the Yankees’ six-run surge in the final two innings.

Clay Rapada (1-0) pitched a scoreless seventh inning to get credit for the victory. Lisaberto Bonilla (0-1) took the loss for the Phillies after giving up three runs (two earned) in his one inning of work.

The victory could end up being a very costly one for he Yankees, however. The status of two pitchers who were used in the game remains up n the air on Saturday.

Starting pitcher Michael Pineda, a 23-year-old right-hander obtained in a trade from the Mariners for mega-prospect Jesus Montero, told the Yankees after the game he was feeling soreness in the back of his right shoulder. That may have accounted for the fact that Pineda was tagged for six runs on seven hits and three walks in 2 2/3 innings.

In addition, Ceasr Cabral, a Rule 5 selection from the Boston Red Sox via a deal the Yankees made with the Kansas City Royals, left the game on Friday complaining of severe pain in his left elbow. Cabral was competing with Rapada as a potential second left-hander for the Yankees’ bullpen. Cabral threw a scoreless fifth inning, giving up just one hit.

Both pitchers have been scheduled for MRIs today to determine the extent of their injuries. But it is safe to say that Pineda and Cabral will not pitch again in spring training and both pitchers likely face the prospect of starting the season on the disabled list.

With the victory the Yankees improved their spring record to 14-11. The Phillies are 12-13.

PINSTRIPE POSITIVES

  • Despite Wise’s two home runs and three RBIs it is a foregone conclusion the 33-year-old outfielder will not make the Yankees’ 25-man roster. Unless Wise would be willing to play in the minor leagues he likely will be released at the end of spring training.
  • The same can be said of outfielder Justin Maxwell, who drove in three runs to help the Yankees climb out of a 6-1 hole. Maxwell is out of options and he can’t be sent to the minor leagues. So the Yankees will be forced to place Maxwell on waivers despite a .342 spring average and five stolen bases.
  • Eric Chavez is swinging a hot bat of late. He was 2-for-4 with an RBI and a run scored on Friday. Chavez is batting .283 this spring, but in his last four games he is 7-for-14 with five RBIs.
  • Curtis Granderson shook off a sore elbow and blasted his second home run of the spring, a two-run shot in the third inning off former Red Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon. Granderson is hitting .333 this spring.

NAGGING NEGATIVES

  • Pineda has been a major disappointment all spring and the injury may account for the reason his velocity has been down from the 97 miles per hour he was throwing in the first half of his rookie season with the Mariners when he made the American League All-Star team. Pineda is 1-0 with a 5.68 ERA this spring. He has given up 12 runs on 24 hits and 10 walks and struck out 18 in 19 innings covering six starts. If he is sidelined for a portion of the season it would settle the Yankees’ immediate problem with six starters vying for five spots. However, his injury will leave a burning question to general manager Brian Cashman for trading the Yankees best power prospect in years (Montero) for a pitcher who lost velocity and won only one game in the second half of last season. There had to be a reason the Mariners were so anxious to trade him. I think we know the reason why now.
  • Though the Yankees were not charged with an error in the game, they played some pretty sloppy defense at times against Phillies. In the fifth inning, after Chris Dickerson made a spectacular diving catch on a drive hit by Jim Thome, Brett Gardner and Derek Jeter combined for a real brain cramp. On a pop fly to shallow left by Hunter Pence, Jeter drifted back and then stopped as Gardner watched the ball drop between them. Pence was awarded a gift double and he scored a run on a Placido Polanco single that retied the game at 7-7 just after the Yankees had retaken the lead 7-6 the previous inning.
  • In a game in which there were 22 runs, 31 hits and 15 walks, Gardner was 0-for-3 and his spring average is just .213.  Though he did steal his sixth and seventh bases in the game, Gardner also failed to lay down a sac bunt in the fifth inning before grounding into a fielder’s choice.

BOMBER BANTER

Nick Swisher played five innings of a minor-league game on Friday as he recovers from a sore left groin. Swisher has not played in a Grapefruit League game since a March 14 game against the Blue Jays. Swisher said he expects to be ready for Opening Day next Friday.  . . .  Though it may be a moot point now, Freddy Garcia said Friday that he would not mind pitching out of the bullpen if the team needs him to do it. But Garcia, who has only two relief stints in his 329 major-league appearances, said he prefers to remain a starter. With Pineda sidelined for now, Garcia, Phil Hughes and Ivan Nova will win rotation spots by default. However, when Andy Pettitte returns to claim a starting spot sometime in May, one of those three pitchers could be shifted to the bullpen.

ON DECK

The Yankees hit the road on Saturday to face the Houston Astros in Kissimmee, FL.

The Yankees will start right-hander Adam Warren in the game. He will be opposed by Jordan Lyles of the Astros.

Game-time will be 1:05 p.m. EDT and the game will not be broadcast.

 

Yankees Wise Up To Take Tigers By Tail In Tenth

GAME 23

YANKEES 4, TIGERS 2 (10 INNINGS)

After blowing a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the ninth inning, New York rallied behind a two-run double by Dewayne Wise with the bases loaded in the top of the 10th inning to defeat Detroit on Saturday in a Grapefruit League game played at Joker Marchant Stadium in Lakeland, FL.

D.J. Mitchell (2-0) was credited with the victory despite the fact he gave up a leadoff home run to Audy Ciriaco and a bases-loaded sacrifice fly to Danny Worth in the ninth that forced the extra frame. Lefty reliever Cesar Cabral pitched a perfect tenth inning to get credit for a save.

Veteran Tigers lefty Danny Schlereth (1-1) was the losing pitcher.

The Yankees’ rally began when Justin Maxwell reached first in a fielding error by Worth. Bill Hall then worked a walk and Maxwell and Hall then successfully executed a double steal.

Austin Krum flied out to shallow left and Schlereth intentionally walked Colin Curtis to pitch to Wise. But Wise foiled the strategy by lacing a double to right-field that scored Maxwell and Hall with what proved to be the winning runs.

Mitchell’s inability to keep the Tigers off the board spoiled two significant story lines for the Yankees.

The first big news for the Yankees was that Freddy Garcia was making his first start since he bruised his right hand trying to field Edwin Encarnacion’s hard-hit grounder on March 14 in a game against Blue Jays in Dunedin, FL. Garcia also was trying to reinsert himself into the battle for a rotation spot that is crowded with four starters vying for two spots.

Garcia was up to challenge also. He allowed only one hit and walked two while striking out four in 4 1/3 shutout innings against Tigers. Tigers right-hander Max Scherzer matched zeros with Garcia until the seventh inning, which was the point of the second big development for the Yankees.

With two out in the seventh, Mark Teixeira slapped a single into center and Raul Ibanez, who was a woeful 2-for-39 (.051) as he stood at the plate, launched a two-run home run to the deepest part of the ballpark in center-field to give the Yankees a 2-0 lead.

With the victory, the Yankees have stretched their spring hot streak to 8-1 with one tie in their last 10 games. Their overall record stands at 13-9. The Tigers, who had only lost three games this spring, are now 14-4.

PINSTRIPE POSITIVES

  • It is no secret that Garcia, 35, is facing long odds at making the rotation despite his 12-8 record and 3.62 ERA in 2011. But Garcia stepped up and pitched excellent baseball. He lowered his spring ERA to 2.92 and manager Joe Girardi was very pleased with what he saw. But with CC Sabathia, Hiroki Kuroda and Andy Pettitte assured rotation spots when Pettitte is activated in May, Garcia is battling uphill against Michael Pineda, Ivan Nova and Phil Hughes for the other two spots.
  • It remains to be seen if Ibanez’s two-run home run gets him going this spring. Yankee fans and the media have been focusing on Ibanez’s struggles as his average continued to dip lower. Ibanez, 39, is assured that he will be the left-handed designated hitter because he signed a $4.5 million contract just before camp opened.
  • Wise, 33, came up with a clutch hit just when the Yankees needed it. Wise has no shot at making the Yankees’ 25-man roster this spring but you have to give him credit for hitting .444 with six RBIs and three stolen bases. He also has played the excellent defense for which he is best known.

NAGGING NEGATIVES

  • Mitchell’s failure to close the deal in the ninth was an aberration from his fine work this spring. He entered the game with a 0.90 ERA. The 24-year-old former Clemson right-hander will begin the season at Triple-A Empire State but he could end up with the Yankees in the future as starter or reliever because of his ability to induce ground-ball outs.
  • Yankee hitters have been swinging at air the past two days. On Friday they fanned 12 times in Clearwater, FL against the Phillies and Scherzer and the Tigers struck out another dozen on Saturday. The last time the Yankees hit double-digit strikeouts this spring was against the Red Sox on March 13 at George M. Steinbrenner Field when they fanned 13 times.
  • Chris Dickerson has been a major disappointment this spring. He started in center on Saturday and was 0-for-2 with two strikeouts. He is hitting .200 so far. Dickerson was removed from the 40-man roster to make room for Eric Chavez and he is out of options. So the Yankees likely will release him at the end of camp.

This report was delayed by technical difficulties.

 

Yankees Exterminate Rays Behind Maxwell, Molina

GAME 19

YANKEES 5, RAYS 2

Upstart rivals like the Rays are like cockroaches. You can’t be satisfied with just watching them flail aimlessly in their backs. You have to step on them hard to remove all hope. The Yankees did that on Wednesday.

Justin Maxwell, who continues to impress this spring, hit a bloop double near the right-field line to score Cole Garner with the tie-breaking run in the ninth to put Tampa Bay on their backs and Gustavo Molina followed with a two-run home run to snuff them out as New York came from behind to win at Charlotte Sports Park in Port Charlotte, FL.

The Rays took an early 2-0 lead in the second inning on infield single by Carlos Pena and a two-run home run to straightaway center by Matt Joyce off Yankee starter Phil Hughes.

The Yankee rallied to score single runs in the sixth and seventh innings off Rays left-hander Ceasr Ramos.

Rule 5 selection Cesar Cabral (1-0) pitched two innings to earn the victory. Michael O’Connor pitched a scoreless ninth to earn a save. Rays right-hander Brandon Gomes (0-1) took the loss.

The Yankees have now won five of their last six games and pushed over the .500 mark on the spring at 10-9, The Rays are 5-11.

PINSTRIPE POSITIVES

  • Cabral earned this victory the hard way. In both innings he struck out the side with a potential lead run on third base. His work in the eighth was particularly impressive. Elliot Johnson opened the inning with a double down the left-field line. Cabral then committed a balk that advanced Johnson to third. Cabral escaped disaster by fanning Jeff Salazar, Luke Scott and Matt Mangini. Cabral, 23, is 1-0 with a 2.16 ERA and has given up two runs on 10 hits and one walk in seven appearances this spring. More impressive is his 11 strikeouts in 8 1/3 innings. Cabral is competing to become a second left-hander in the bullpen and if he loses the battle he will have to be offered back to the Kansas City Royals. That would be a shame because Cabral looks like he is a very talented young pitcher.
  • Hughes pitched a sensational five innings despite the Joyce two-run home run. Hughes only gave up one hit after the second inning, walked one and struck out three. Hughes threw first-pitch strikes to 16 of the 19 batters he faced including the last 10 batters he faced. Hughes is 0-1 with a 2.03 ERA in his four spring outings and he may be on the verge of winning a spot in the rotation.
  • Maxwell’s spring heroics continued on Wednesday. Cole Garner opened the ninth with a ground-rule double off Gomes. Jorge Vazquez, who tied the game in the seventh with an RBI double, advanced him to third on a long flyball to center and Maxwell scored him with his bloop double. Maxwell, 28, is hitting a sizzling hot .435 with five doubles among his 10 hits this spring. Maxwell, as I said before, won’t make the 25-man roster but his impressive play may win a call-up this season.

NAGGING NEGATIVES

  • The Yankees scored their first run in the sixth inning when Raul Ibanez grounded out to first with the bases loaded and one out. OK, why would an RBI by Ibanez be a negative? Well, Ibanez was 0-for-3 again and his average has now dipped to .059. Seriously, grounding out with the bases loaded? That is bad. Pretty soon they are going to replace the Mendoza Line with the Ibanez Line to measure hitters. Of course, hitting better than .059 could be a piece a cake for even most pitchers.

BOMBER BANTER

Nick Swisher said that his groin injury was much better on Wednesday. Swisher was removed from Tuesday’s game in the third inning after he struggled to run out an infield grounder. After resting a tight left groin, Swisher now has soreness in his right groin. Manager Joe Girardi said Swisher will not return to the lineup until he is fully recovered. He is listed as day-to-day.  . . .  On the heels of Andy Pettitte’s impressive bullpen session on Tuesday the Yankees have scheduled him to throw batting practice to live hitters on Friday at the Yankees’ spring complex in Tampa, FL. Pettitte is targeting May 1 for his return to the major leagues.  . . .  Freddy Garcia, who suffered a bruised right hand on a hard-hit grounder by Edwin Encarnacion of the Blue Jays in Dunedin, FL on March 14, will start on Saturday in Lakeland, FL., against the Detroit Tigers. The presence of Pettitte means Garcia will have to pitch well to win a spot in the rotation.

ON DECK

It is time for the 2012 version of the Yankee-Red Sox rivalry Part 2 on Thursday night. The Yankees, who lost a 1-0 game on two errors on one play in the ninth on March 13, will make their first visit to JetBlue Park in Fort Myers, FL.

CC Sabathia will skip the game in order to pitch in minor-league game. The Yankees will start 25-year-old right-hander David Phelps, who ironically was the losing pitcher in that March 13 game against the Red Sox. Phelps is 0-1 with a spotless 0.00 ERA this spring. Overshadowed in the organization by mega-prospects Manny Banuelos and Dellin Betances, Phelps has actually outpitched them both.

The Red Sox will start veteran right-hander Aaron Cook, one of the many pitchers they invited in an open casting call for a No. 5 starter for the 2012 season. Cook is 0-0 with a 0.00 in two outings (one start) covering 5 1/3 innings.

Game-time will ve 7:05 p.m. EDT and the game will be telecast nationally by ESPN and locally by the YES Network.

 

A-Rod Drives In Three As Yankees Plunder Pirates

GAME 18

YANKEES 10, PIRATES 3

TAMPA – All spring, Alex Rodriguez has carried the hardened look of a man on a mission to re-establish himself as one of the elite players in baseball. It seems to be working for him, too.

Rodriguez blooped a RBI single to center in the third inning to tie the game and then cracked a two-out, two-run double to left as part of a five-run fourth as New York went on to rout Pittsburgh 10-3 on Tuesday night in a Grapefruit League contest at George M. Steinbrenner Field.

Ageless wonder closer Mariano Rivera (2-0) needed only eight pitches (seven of which were strikes) to retire the Pirates in order in the fourth to get credit for the victory.

Pirates left-hander Erik Bedard (0-1) gave up four runs (three earned) on five hits and three walks while striking out three in 3 2/3 innings of work to take the loss. But the Yankees jumped on reliever Jo-Jo Reyes with two out in the fourth to score five runs and put the game out of reach early.

Reyes entered the game with Russell Martin at second and Curtis Granderson on first with two out. But Reyes walked Justin Maxwell to load the bases. He then compounded his troubles by walking Robinson Cano to allow Martin to score the tie-breaking run.

Rodriguez followed with his two-run double and Mark Teixeira and Andruw Jones followed with an RBI single and an RBI double, respectively, which chased Reyes from the game.

PINSTRIPE POSITIVES

  • It is always a positive sign when Rodriguez is healthy and hitting the ball with authority. The veteran third baseman is doing a great job this spring of hitting the ball where it is pitched rather than pulling the ball exclusively. The result has been a very good spring where Rodriguez is hitting .333 with two home runs and nine RBIs.
  • Granderson hit leadoff in the game and was 2-for-2 with two walks and three runs scored. The only regular having a better spring than Rodriguez is Granderson, who is hitting a sizzling .385 and seems primed to follow up on his career season of 2011.
  • Maxwell hit .222 in his first spring training with the Yankees in 2011. This spring, he is a totally different player. Maxwell was 2-for-2 after coming in the game in the third inning to replace an injured Nick Swisher, including a clutch two-run double in the fifth inning. Maxwell is hitting a red-hot .429 with five RBIs and three stolen bases. At age 28, Maxwell will not make the Yankees’ 25-man roster at as outfielder but he could be a valuable call-up from Triple-A Empire State during the season.
  • Rivera looked so surgical in the fourth inning it was scary. Here is a statistic that will absolutely floor you. Rivera has not been scored upon in spring training since the 2008 season. Wow!

NAGGING NEGATIVES

  • Yankees starter Michael Pineda got off to a very rocky start in the first inning. He gave up a one-out single to former Yankee outfielder Jose Tabata and then left a 3-2 breaking pitch up to Andrew McCutchen that was deposited over the left-field wall for an early 2-0 Pirates lead. Pineda ended up throwing 39 pitches in the first inning alone. However, there were two real good signs in his outing: No. 1 Pineda’s velocity rose to 93 miles per hour and No. 2 Pineda settled in and retired the last seven batters he faced, five of them on strikeouts. He struck out the side in the second inning.
  • Cory Wade got roughed up a bit in the sixth inning. He gave up three straight singles to Tabata, McCutchen and Neil Walker to surrender the Pirates lone run after the first inning. He has given up three runs on eight hits and a walk in seven innings of work spanning six games. But Wade’s role the bullpen looks to be safe because of the fine work he did for the team in 2011.
  • Coming off a day off on Monday, manager Joe Girardi basically played the starting lineup he would have used in the regular season against a left-handed starter with the exception of shortstop Derek Jeter, who was unable to start because of lingering issues with a sore left calf. Then the Yankees lost Swisher to another groin strain in the third inning as he ran to first on a potential double-play grounder then ended up being scored an error. With the veteran club the Yankees have they have to avoid these nagging injuries once the season starts.

BOMBER BANTER

The actual headline news of the day had nothing to do with the game. Andy Pettitte arrived at the Yankees spring training complex and threw an eye-popping and electric bullpen session that had even the most cautious Yankee insiders gushing. Pettitte summed it up nicely after the session: “It’s weird to say, but I feel like I never left”  Martin caught the 50-pitch session and said, “That’s as good of a bullpen as I’ve caught all spring – from anyone.” Pettitte, 39, who signed a minor-league contract for $2.5 million last week, is now on a mission to build up his legs for the season and he is targeting May 1 for his return to the major leagues. Somewhere do you hear Bobby Valentine and Joe Maddon weeping?  . . .  Cano returned to the lineup quicker than anyone expected after he was plunked on the left hand by a pitch from Orioles left-hander Troy Patton. X-rays taken after the game were negative and Cano apparently did not experience any lingering soreness.  . . .  With the Yankees scheduled to play road games on Wednesday and Thursday, Jeter will not return to lineup until Friday, at the earliest. The Yankees are playing it very cautious with their 37-year-old shortstop.

Transmission of this report was delayed by technical difficulties.

 

Yankees’ Nova Lays Giant Egg In Orioles’ Nest

GAME 17

ORIOLES (SS) 6, YANKEES 3

Adam Jones connected for a three-run homer and Matt Wieters added a solo shot in the first inning off Ivan Nova as a Baltimore split squad powered their way past New York in a Grapefruit League game on Sunday night at Ed Smith Stadium in Sarasota, FL.

Alfredo Simon (1-0) pitched two innings, giving up one run on two hits and a walk, to get credit for the victory. However, it was a painful victory. Simon had to leave the game after two innings after re-aggravating a groin injury. Stu Pomeranz struck out the side in the ninth to earn a save.

Nova (0-2) regressed from his last start against the Red Sox, giving up five runs on seven hits in four innings of work despite striking out four. Nova did, however, retire seven of the last eight hitters he faced in the last 2 1/3 innings he pitched.

The Yankees, after winning three consecutive games to even their spring record, fell to 8-9. The Orioles improved to 6-7.

PINSTRIPE POSITIVES

  • Mark Teixeira doubled off Simon in the second inning and later scored on a Justin Maxwell groundout to push across the Yankees’ first run. Teixeira is beginning to show signs of coming around with the bat and his spring average is now at .238.
  • Dewayne Wise and Jose Gil drove in a run apiece in the seventh inning off right-hander Jon Link. Link came on with one out in the inning and allowed a single to Bill Hall and walked Chris Dickerson. Hall scored on Wise’s double to left-center and Dickerson scored easily on Gil’s sacrifice fly.  Wise was 2-for 2 with a walk, stole a base and drove in a run.
  • Brett Gardner showed off his defensive skills in the second inning by hauling in a fly ball in center field off the bat of J.J. Hardy and firing the ball on the fly to Teixeira at first to double off the speedy Endy Chavez.

NAGGING NEGATIVES

  • Manager Joe Girardi was not pleased when Nova told reporters that the home runs Jones and Wieters hit came on a slider (to Jones) and a curve (to Wieters) that catcher Gustavo Molina called, but Nova did not have confidence in throwing. Girardi said what the pitcher throws is his decision because he holds the ball. Despite the hiccup on Sunday night and his 7.82 spring ERA, Nova is still pretty much assured a spot in the rotation.
  • The Raul Ibanez saga continues. He was 0-for-3 on Sunday and he is now hitting a dreadful .065. Not only that, but his bat speed through the hitting zone looks slow and methodical rather than free and easy. With the money Ibanez is making, he is assured a spot on the roster and will open the season as the designated hitter. But his work this spring is reminiscent of the spring Randy Winn had two seasons ago. Winn ended up being released in May.
  • The Yankees’ base-running was atrocious. Eduardo Nunez and Mason Williams were caught stealing by Wieters. Wise managed to steal a base but Wieters threw him out after he strayed too far off the bag. Also Hall nearly got passed on the base-paths by Dickerson when Hall mistakenly started back to second on Wise’s double.

BOMBER BANTER

All-Star reliever David Robertson pitched a pain-free bullpen session in Tampa, FL., and he hopes to be able to pitch in a spring game in about a week. Robertson has been sidelined since March 7 when he suffered a bone bruise on his right foot slipping on step at his home.  . . .  The injuries are piling up. This one can be blamed on another Oriole pitcher trying to “impress” by pitching inside without control. Last spring, Jeremy Guthrie seemed to be pitching to Yankee targets in the batter’s box. This season it is left-hander Troy Patton. Patton unleashed a 3-2 pitch right at Robinson Cano in the sixth inning and it struck the All-Star second baseman in the left hand. Cano left the game to have precautionary X-rays, which showed no broken bones. Girardi said Cano just has a contusion and some soreness. Cano is listed as day-to-day. To add insult to the injury, first base umpire Tim Welke incorrectly ruled Cano swung at the pitch and he was called out. Television replays showed Cano never actually brought the bat forward to swing.  . . .  Girardi all but ruled out that the team would go to a six-man rotation to accommodate 39-year-old left-hander Andy Pettitte. The Yankees will allow Pettitte to get in game shape for about seven weeks but it is unclear what role Pettitte will assume when he is ready.

ON DECK

Good news for Ibanez and Cano, the Yankees do not have a game scheduled on Monday. Cano can ice his sore left hand and Ibanez can see if he can hit a ball in the cage. The Yankees will resume their spring schedule on Tuesday night against the Pittsburgh Pirates at George M. Steinbrenner Field.

Right-hander Michael Pineda is scheduled to make his fourth start for the Yankees. In addition, walking wounded Russell Martin (groin), Nick Swisher (groin) and Derek Jeter (calf) are scheduled to return to the lineup.

Game-time will be 7:05 p.m. EDT and the game will be shown nationally by the MLB Network on tape delay and locally via a live broadcast by the YES Network.

 

Laird’s Walk-Off Sac Fly In 10th Boosts Yankees

GAME 15

YANKEES 4, NATIONALS 3 (10 Innings)

TAMPA – When you have a team struggling to get on base and score runs it is never too late push a run across – even if it is the 10th inning.

Brandon Laird lofted a sacrifice fly in the 10th inning to score Justin Maxwell with the game-winning run as New York swept it two-game home-and-away set with Washington at George M. Steinbrenner Field on Friday.

The Yankees, very much like Scarlett O’Hara in “Gone With the Wind,” depended greatly on “the kindness of strangers.”

Nationals right-hander Atahualpa Severino started his stint in the 10th by walking Maxwell. Pinch-hitter Melky Mesa followed by hitting a routine grounder that was misplayed by Nationals third baseman Mark Teahen, allowing Maxwell to advance to third. One out later, Laird launched a fly ball to right field that plated Maxwell with the deciding tally.

Right-hander Chase Whitley (1-0) pitched a scoreless top of the 10th to gain credit for the victory. Severino (0-1) took the loss.

The game featured a matchup of lefties in CC Sabathia for the Yankees and newly acquired Gio Gonzalez for the Nationals. However, Sabathia struggled with his command and he left after just three innings on the south end of a 3-1 deficit.

Sabathia gave up three runs on six hits and a walk while he fanned two. Gonzalez gave up a run on three hits and three walks and struck out six in 3 1/3 innings.

The Yankees managed to tie the game in the fifth inning off reliever Craig Stammen on a leadoff single by Doug Bernier and a two-out, two-run home run to deep left by Alex Rodriguez, his first home run this spring since he homered on the first pitch he saw by Roy Halladay of the Phillies on March 3.

With the victory the Yankees improved their spring record to 7-8. The Nationals fell to 5-7.

PINSTRIPE POSITIVES

  • With the battle of lefties going on most of the buzz in the sellout crowd of 10,982 was about another left-hander entirely. The news 39-year-old Andy Pettitte had elected to come out of retirement and sign a $2.5 million minor-league contract with the Yankees spread like wildfire through the Yankee faithful on hand. I would consider adding a pitcher to your roster who has 240 major-league victories (203 of them with the Yankees) has got to be considered a positive development.
  • Though the Yankee regulars struck out so much they could have put out a wildfire, it was nice to see Rodriguez connect for a huge two-run home run in the fifth inning. The Yankees, if you can believe this, have only hit a total of five home runs in the first 15 games this spring. Hopefully, this may signal an end to the power outage.
  • Though Sabathia struggled, Phil Hughes turned in a very sharp four innings of work in relief. Hughes, who is still competing with a group of pitchers that now will include Pettitte for a starting spot, held the Nationals scoreless on three hits, did not walk a batter and he struck three. Hughes is showing no signs of the right shoulder fatigue that plagued him last season.
  • Robinson Cano doubled to the opposite field in the first inning off Gonzalez to score Curtis Granderson from first base to draw the Yankees to within a run at 2-1. Cano is off to a very slow start this spring and is hitting .190.

NAGGING NEGATIVES

  • Sabathia admitted after the game his fastball was “all over the place” and it cost him early. The Nationals loaded the bases to start the game on a double, single and a walk. They pushed across a run on a double-play grounder off the bat of Wilson Ramos. But they added a second run in the same frame on an RBI double by Jesus Flores. Steve Lombardozzi then touched Sabathia with a leadoff home run in the third inning to give the Nationals a 3-1 lead.
  • Strikeouts, strikeouts, strikeouts. The Yankees struck out 14 times in the game. Raul Ibanez, Francisco Cervelli and Bill Hall fanned two times each. Considering the fact that the Yankees won the game after collecting just five hits in the game you would have to say they were lucky to have won at all. The pitching of Hughes was the big key. The question is when are the Yankees going to wake up and start hitting?
  • Ibanez was 0-for-2 with a walk and fanned twice and he is now hitting .077. Yankee fans are getting a bit impatient with Ibanez considering he is replacing retired Yankee icon Jorge Posada at designated hitter and because the Yankees chose to sign him instead of a pair of former popular Yankees in Johnny Damon and Hideki Matsui.

BOMBER BANTER

Injuries have cropped up all over the place and it is now an epidemic in Yankee camp. Derek Jeter missed the game Friday and will not play again until Tuesday due to a tender left calf. The Yankees were quick to point out that they do not consider the injury serious and that is not the same calf that forced Jeter to the disabled list for three weeks last season.  . . .  Meanwhile, Nick Swisher and Russell Martin were held out of action with strained left groins. Swisher could return to the lineup on Saturday but Martin will be shelved for a couple of days.  . . .  Those walking wounded join the ranks of Eduardo Nunez (bruised right hand), Ramiro Pena (sprained right ankle) and David Robertson (bone bruise of right foot) who are also out of action.  . . .  The Yankees made their first cuts of the spring on Friday, re-assigning 14 players to minor-league camp, including top pitching prospect Manny Banuelos. Banuelos was among seven pitchers sent out. The others were Dan Burawa, Brett Marshall, Adam Miller, Ryan Pope, Graham Stoneburner and Whitley. The other cuts included catchers Gary Sanchez, J.R. Murphy and Kyle Higashioka, infielders David Adams and Corban Joseph and outfielders Zoilo Almonte and Mesa.

ON DECK

The Yankees will host the Houston Astros for the second time this spring on Saturday at George M. Steinbrenner Field.

Scheduled to start for the Yankees will be 37-year-old right-hander Hiroki Kuroda, who will be making his third start of the spring. Kuroda is 0-1 with a 5.40 ERA and he was displeased with his last start.

The Astros are expected to start right-hander Bud Norris.

Game-time will be 1:05 p.m. EDT and the game will be telecast nationally by the MLB Network and locally by the YES Network.