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 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 6, ROCKIES 4
On a day the New York Yankees celebrated its living legends on their 65th annual Old-Timers’ Day at hallowed Yankee Stadium, it was 24-year-old Eduardo Nunez — the youngest player on the roster — who delivered the game-winning hit and it was 41-year-old Mariano Rivera — the oldest player on the roster — who closed the game out in the ninth.
Nunez stroked a one-out RBI single off reliever Matt Belisle (5-3) in the seventh inning to score pinch-runner Chris Dickerson from second to break a 4-4 tie as New York downed Colorado on Sunday and won the three-game series from the Rockies.
Colorado actually enjoyed a 3-0 lead in the game on the strength of solo home runs by Ty Wigginton and Chris Ianetta and a sac fly by Todd Helton off Yankee starter Ivan Nova in the first five innings. The Rockies, meanwhile, were cruising behind 24-year-old rookie right-hander Juan Nicasio, who had retired the Yankees in order for the first four innings.
Nicasio eeven opened the fifth by retiring Alex Rodriguez on a flyout to right. But after having thrown 62 pitches and facing a 2-1 count on Robinson Cano, Cano broke up a potential Nicasio no-hit bid with an lined opposite-field single to left. Five pitches later, Swisher broke up Nicasio’s potential shutout bid with a two-run blast into the right-field bleachers for his ninth home run of the season.
Four pitches after that, Jorge Posada erased Nicasio’s lead with his eighth home run of the season, a rope that landed in the Yankees’ bullpen in right-center. So within a span of 10 pitches, the Yankees finally formally introduced themselves to the rookie.
However, the Yankees’ own rookie pitcher Nova was unable to hold on to the tie in the sixth. Wigginton connected on a 3-2 pitch for his second solo home run of the game off Nova and the Rockies reclaimed the lead.
But, the Yankees chased Nicasio from the game in the bottom of the sixth witha bunt single by Brett Gardner, a stolen base by Gardner and a walk to Curtis Granderson. Belisle entered the game and retired Granderson at second on a comebacker to the mound. But Alex Rodriguez tied the game with a ground single into left to score Gardner.
That set up the Yankees’ seventh inning. With one out, Posada drew a walk off Belisle. Then All-Star shortstop Troy Tulowitzki booted a hot smash grounder off the bat of Russell Martin for an error. Dickerson was then sent in to pinch-run for Posada and he scored after Nuuez slipped a bouncer through the hole between third and short to score Dickerson with what would prove to be the winning run.
Mark Teixeira gave the Yankees an insurance run in the eight inning when he led off with a solo shot to left off left-hander Mark Reynolds, Teixeira’s 23rd home run of the season, tying him Blue Jays outfielder Jose Bautista for the major-league lead.
The Yankee bullpen did the rest. Boone Logan got three outs in the seventh and David Robertson pitched a perfect eighth, striking out two batters. But Rivera needed only 14 pitches — nine of them strikes — to strike out Wigginton, Charlie Blackmon and Ianetta in order to pick up his 20th save in 23 chances. Logan (2-2) got credit for the victory in relief.
With the victory the Yankees improved their season ledger to 45-31. They have won 12 of their last 16 games and they remain a half-game ahead of the second-place Boston Red Sox atop the American League East. The Rockies dropped to 38-39.
- Since taking over for an injured Derek Jeter as the starting shortstop on June 14, Nunez is 12-for-41 (.293) with a home run and five RBIs. He has failed to get a hit in only three of the 12 games he has started. Brian Cashman said it best when he said the Yankees have no interest in potential free-agent shortstop Jose Reyes. The Yankees have Jeter signed for four years and Nunez could be starting for half the teams in baseball now. They are set at the position.
- Swisher continues to improve from the left side of the plate. His home run in the fifth inning was his sixth of the season from the left side. Despite hitting a sizzling .342 right-handed, Swisher is only hitting .203 left-handed. But he has raised his average to .245 by hitting .319 in June with six home runs and 18 RBIs.
- Posada ended a 119 at-bat home run drought on June 22 in Cincinnati after he had hit six home runs in his first 16 games this season. His eighth home run on Sunday came only 11 at-bats after his seventh. Posada may be hitting a woeful .100 with no home runs and just one RBI against lefties. But he is hitting .270 with eight homers and 24 RBIs against right-handers this season.
- After Luis Ayala gave up a single to Ianetta to begin the sixth inning, Logan, Robertson and Rivera were perfect the rest of the way. They threw a combined 42 pitches, 32 of them for strikes. They struck out six of those nine batters they faced and only one ball reached the outfield. Is it any wonder that the Yankees bullpen is No. 1 in the majors in ERA?
- It looked as if it was going to be another one of those games that the Yankees looked hopeless against a pitcher they have not seen before. Nicasio was getting the Yankees out even though he was falling behind in the count to just about every batter in the first four innings. Fortunately, Cano’s single made him work from the stretch for the first time in the game and the Yankees took advantage right away.
- Nunez may be a coming star with his bat and his ability to steal bases, but his fielding is a long way from looking major league. In the first inning, Nunez allowed a sure double-play ball off the bat of Jonathan Herrera to roll under his glove for his ninth miscue of the season in limited starts. Nova pitched out of the jam by retiring the next three batters but Nunez is going to have improve his concentration in the field.
- Martin was one of two Yankee starters who did not get a hit in the game. The other was Curtis Granderson. Martin also committed a throwing error on a steal attempt by Ianetta in seventh inning. That was his fourth error of the season. On the bright side he has caught 29% of base-stealers against him this season, which is right around his career average of 30% for his career.
There were loud ovations for Lou Piniella, Joe Torre and Bernie Williams from the sellout crowd of 47,894 during the Old-Timers’ Day celebration before the game. This was the first time the three had participated in an Old-Timers’ Day since they retired from baseball. But the biggest fan favorite is still 86-year-old Yogi Berra, who drew the loudest ovation when he was introduced. Tino Martinez was the hero of the game with a two-run home run off David Cone to give the Yankees a 2-0 victory over the Clippers. The Yankees also honored long-time head trainer Gene Monahan, who is retiring after this season. Monahan threw out the first pitch in the Old-Timers’ game. . . . One player missing from the festivities was Derek Jeter, who is rehabbing a strained right calf in Tampa, FL. On Sunday he took swings off a batting tee and from soft toss but he still has not started a running program. Jeter hopes to begin running this week. There is no set timetable for his return.
The Yankees will have the benefit of another day off on Monday to rest their bullpen, rework their starting rotation and allow Alex Rodriguez to get treatment for his sore right knee. On Monday, the Yankees will play host to the Milwaukee Brewers for the opener of the three-game set.
The Yankees will open the series with 34-year-old right-hander Freddy Garcia (6-6, 3.30 ERA), who threw his third straight quality start and his sixth in his last seven starts. Garcia allowed two unearned runs on three hits over seven innings in a victory against the Reds on Thursday. He is 0-2 with a 3.98 ERA in his career against the Brewers.
The Brewers will start Zack Greinke (7-2, 4.77 ERA). The former Royals right-hander gave up just one earned run over seven innings in his last start. He has fanned 10 in his last two starts. Greinke is 2-3 with a 5.67 ERA against the Yankees. He also spurned a potential trade to the Yankees by stating that he did not think he could pitch in Yankee Stadium with his anxiety disorder.
Game-time will be 7:05 p.m. EDT and the game will be telecast nationally by the MLB Network and locally by the YES Network.