TWINS 6, YANKEES 1
TAMPA – When Robinson Cano returned from the World Baseball Classic to the Yankees’ clubhouse at George M. Steinbrenner Field he must have looked around and said to himself “Who are these guys?” Cano and “those guys” then proceeded on Thursday to lose to a team of nobodies on the Twins.
Drew Butera hit a bases-clearing double as part of a five-run fourth inning and Liam Hendriks gave up one unearned run in four innings of one-hit baseball as Minnesota embarrassed New York in front of a paid crowd of 10,698.
Phelps (2-3), who is vying to be the fifth starter this spring, could not locate any of his pitches and he was hammered for six hits, he walked three and he struck out six in 3 2/3 innings until he was mercifully removed from the game by manager Joe Girardi.
Hendriks (2-1) gave up the Yankees’ lone run in the fourth inning when Cano picked up the team’s first hit with a single. After Kevin Youkilis walked, left-fielder Joe Benson misplayed Travis Hafner’s opposite field fly ball to allow Cano to score.
With the loss the Yankees are now 10-16 in Grapefruit League play. The Twins, minus Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau, improved to 12-12.
- Cano returned to the lineup and was 1-for-2 with a run scored. He better get used to being the team’s lone contributor this season because that was the only hit the Yankees picked up in the entire game.
- Mariano Rivera gave up a leadoff single in the fifth inning and then he got serious and struck out Benson, Butera and Pedro Florimon in succession to end the inning. It may be comforting for Yankee fans to Rivera in the closer’s role for one last season. It is hard to see how he will have many games to save the way the team is playing now.
- One would guess that in only getting one hit that the players are now well rested and ready to get a few more hits on Friday.
- In his first four starts, Phelps was sailing along with a 2.37 ERA. In his last two starts, he has given up nine runs on 13 hits and four walks in 8 2/3 innings. His battle to unseat Ivan Nova as the No. 5 starter appears to be in great jeopardy at the moment.
- Players always say when they don’t hit a certain pitcher that you have to “tip your cap to them.” Well, the Yankees have been tipping their cap to a lot of ordinary pitchers this spring. Hendriks was 1-8 with a 5.59 ERA in 16 starts with the Twins last season. Cole De Vries and Pedro Hernandez no-hit them over the final five innings. The sad thing is the Yankees were playing what will be most of their Opening Day lineup if Derek Jeter starts the season on the disabled list.
- In addition to his shoddy pitching, Phelps did not help himself with a pair of poor pickoff throws. He was charged with just one error because the other error was charged to Cano. But Phelps allowed the Twins to force him into making a lot of mistakes and he paid for them.
General manager Brian Cashman said Thursday that Jeter will not play in any more spring training games to allow the team to be able to backdate him to the earliest date should he be placed on the disabled list to start the season. Jeter will play in minor-league games so the team could have him available for an April 6 game against the Detroit Tigers. Jeter is recovering from surgery to repair a fractured left ankle and he suffered a setback this week which required him to receive cortisone injection to alleviate soreness in the ankle. The Yankees are still hopeful Jeter will be able to play on Opening Day.
The Yankees will a complete a home-and-home short series against the Twins with a road visit to Fort Myers, FL, on Friday.
Nova, who is 1-0 with a 3.21 ERA his four spring starts, will pitch for the Yankees. He will be opposed by the world famous Vance Worley, who figures to be the Twins’ Opening Day starter. If Worley no-hits the Yankees it will be time for Yankee fans to panic.
Game-time will be 1:05 p.m. and the game will not be broadcast. That could spare the Yankees a lot of public embarrassment.
YANKEES 5, PHILLIES 3
Robinson Cano sparked a three-run first inning on Friday with an opposite-field two-run double and a New York split squad made the lead hold up behind the solid pitching of Hiroki Kuroda to defeat Philadelphia in a Grapefruit League contest at Bright House Field in Clearwater, FL.
The Yankees jumped on Phillies starter and eventual losing pitcher Vance Worley (1-2) early with a leadoff double by Brett Gardner and a bloop single by Francisco Cervelli that advanced Gardner to third. Cano then laced a double to the wall in left center to score both runners. Eric Chavez then capped the big inning with a RBI double to left that scored Cano.
Kuroda (2-1) gave up only one run on six hits and one walk and struck out three in his 5 2/3 innings of work to earn the victory. David Phelps gave up two runs in his 3 1/3 innings of relief to earn a save.
With the victory the Yankees are 7-1 with one tie in their last nine games. Their spring record stands at 12-9-1. The Phillies fell to 9-11.
- Cano was 3-for-4 with two doubles, a run scored and two RBIs. He has raised his spring average to .243 and he looks to be on his way to another big season with the bat hitting in the No. 3 spot for the Yankees.
- Kuroda looked very sharp against he a team he was very familiar with when he was pitching for the Los Angeles Dodgers. Kuroda threw first-pitch strikes to 17 of the 24 batters he faced. Only six balls reached the outfield on him. Kuroda and CC Sabathia are the only two pitchers assured of spots in the rotation when the season starts.
- Doug Bernier continues to shine at the plate. He was 2-for-4 with an RBI double and a bunt infield single. Bernier is hitting .385 and playing excellent defense despite the fact he has absolutely no a ghost of a chance to make the team. It would be tough for him with Derek Jeter, Eduardo Nunez and Ramiro Pena ahead of him.
- The Yankees won but they could have put away the Phillies a lot easier had they not had three double plays turned against them. They had Worley on the ropes early but allowed him to escape further trouble after the first inning. The Yankees added single runs in the seventh inning off David Herndon and in the eighth inning off Eric Stutes.
- Phelps allowed the Phillies to get back into the game by giving up an RBI single by Miguel Abreu in the seventh and a solo home run to Erik Kratz in the eighth before retiring the Phillies in order in the ninth. The two runs were the first earned runs Phekps has allowed this spring.
- It is hard to evaluate this victory because the Phillies are reeling from injuries to Ryan Howard and Chase Utley. Starting third baseman Placido Polanco and catcher Carlos Ruiz also sat on Friday. The Phillies offense looks to be lacking and they are going to have to rely on their pitching to carry them. So the Yankees should not get too excited about winning this one.
The Yankees are reeling from the news Joba Chamberlain underwent surgery on his dislocated ankle on Thursday and will miss the remainder of the 2012 season. The 26-year-old right-hander has not pitched since June 5 and underwent Tommy John surgery on his right elbow. He was rehabbing the elbow this spring and hoped to return to the Yankees sometime in June. However, on Thursday night he was playing with his son on a trampoline in the Tampa area and suffered an open dislocation of his right ankle, which means the bone was protruding through the skin. Chamberlain also, according to reports, lost a “life-threatening amount of blood” as a result of the injury. Chamberlain will remain hospitalized for a few days and it is unclear how far back this will push his return to the Yankees. . . . Andy Pettitte threw a live batting practice session and reported that he his left arm felt good afterwards. Pettitte threw 35 warmup tosses and 26 pitches to batters and two pitchouts during the session. Pitching coach Larry Rothschild called the session by the 39-year-old veteran “awesome.” Pettitte’s next hurdle will be to pitch a light bullpen session on Sunday. He hopes to be able to return to the major leagues in early May. . . . Manager Joe Girardi defended his decision to end Thursday’s game against the Red Sox in Fort Myers, FL., after Boston tied the game in the bottom of the ninth inning. Girardi said there was no communication from the umpires about the status of the Yankee pitchers. Girardi said he simply made the decision based on the status of his pitchers and it would have been acceptable to play an one extra half-inning if Boston manager Bobby Valentine had wanted Clayton Mortensen to throw. Valentine claimed Girardi’s decision not to play a 10th inning “was not courteous.” Considering the source (Valentine) I would not lose sleep over it. . . . Jeter returned to the lineup and played three innings of the split squad game in Tampa, FL., against the Twins. Jeter was 1-2 in the game. He had been sidelined for seven games with a strained left calf.
The Yankees are in Lakeland on Saturday playing the Detroit Tigers at 1:05 p.m. EDT.
The game is not being telecast.
YANKEES 4, RED SOX 4 (9 INNINGS)
If the quote “a tie is like kissing your sister” applies than the Yankees probably feel like they lip-smacked the ugliest sister they have in the Red Sox.
Jason Repko laid down a suicide squeeze bunt to score Ryan Sweeney with one out in the ninth inning as Boston overcame a 4-0 lead in the final two innings to tie New York on Wednesday night at JetBlue Park in Fort Myers, FL.
If Yankee fans want a culprit for blowing the big lead, look no further than right-handed reliever Cory Wade. Wade gave up three runs on four hits (three of them long doubles) in a less-than-stellar two-thirds of an inning.
Juan Cedeno struck out Josh Kroeger with a tying run on second to end the eighth, however, he ran into trouble in the ninth by allowing a leadoff single by Sweeney. George Kontos entered the game and after one out, Mike Aviles slapped a double off the left-field wall to setup Repko’s squeeze bunt that tied the game.
The Yankees built their four-run lead with two runs off Red Sox starter Aaron Cook in the fourth inning, keyed by a RBI double by a red-hot Curtis Granderson and RBI single by Andruw Jones.
They added two runs in the fifth off of former Yankees right-hander Ross Ohlendorf. Brandon Laird led off the frame with a double, Jose Gil singled to right to advance Laird to third. Then with one out, Doug Bernier rolled a single into right to score both runners.
Yankees right-hander Adam Warren started the game and pitched an excellent four innings. Warren, 24, blanked the Bosox on two hits and no walks and he fanned three.
- Originally the Yankees had announced David Phelps would start. But Warren pitched instead and he looked sensational. Warren is 0-0 with a 1.93 ERA in 9 1/3 innings spanning four appearances this spring. The Yankees obviously have no room for Warren with seven pitchers vying for five starting spots but Warren will be part of the “Fab Five” starting for Triple-A Empire State with Dellin Betances, Manny Banuelos, D.J. Mitchell and Phelps.
- Granderson’s RBI double raised his spring average to .393. Granderson has six doubles, a triple and a home run among his 11 hits and he is slugging at a .786 clip this spring. For those of you who might have thought that 2012 was a fluke you had better think again.
- Bernier is 31 and there s no way he will make the team with Derek Jeter, Eduardo Nunez and Ramiro Pena ahead of him on the depth chart at shortstop. But he has had a sensational spring in the field and he is hitting .364. If Bernier ends up staying with the Yankees he will play at Triple-A Empire State.
- Wade, 28, has given up four runs on seven hits in 1 2/3 innings over his last two appearances. That has forced his ERA to balloon to a very ugly 7.04 this spring. Wade was integral to the Yankees’ bullpen last season, recording a 6-1 record and a 2.04 ERA. But with potentially two starters being shifted to the bullpen when Andy Pettitte returns in May, Wade might be out of a job if he does not turn it around soon.
- The Raul Ibanez spring hit meter is still stuck on two. Ibanez was 0-for-3 with a strikeout and his average has dipped (and we do mean dipped) to .054. That means the Yankees are paying Ibanez a whopping $2.25 million per hit. Where do I sign up for that gig?
- The spring “Siesta Award” will have to shared by Jones and Eric Chavez. Chavez singled to lead off the second but was picked off first base by Cook. After Jones drove in Granderson with his single in the fourth inning he was promptly picked off first by Cook also. Getting caught napping is embarrassing enough but worse when it s the Red Sox. Wake up, guys!
Pettitte will throw a live batting practice session for the Yankees on Friday at their spring complex. The Yankees are also saying that it is possible the lefty could pitch in a spring training game. Pettitte, 39, said he is targeting May for his return to the big leagues. . . . Infielder Jorge Vazquez was struck in the right hand on a pitch from former Yankees right-hander Mark Melancon in the eighth inning and he left the game immediately. Vazquez, 29, will have precautionary X-rays done on the hand and it is unclear how much, if any, time he will miss. . . . Jeter participated in a full team workout on Thursday and he is expected to start on Friday. Jeter has missed the last seven games with a sore left calf. . . . Nick Swisher said his sore groin is improving and he could return to the lineup sometime this weekend. Swisher left Tuesday’s game against the Pirates when he felt his groin tighten up as he ran out a ground ball. . . . CC Sabathia gave up one run in six innings in a game against Double-A hitters on Wednesday. He is on track to pitch the opener for the Yankees on April 6 in St. Petersburg, FL., against the Tampa Bay Rays.
Once again, Red Sox manager “Booby” Valentine has shown his hindquarters. Manager Joe Girardi informed home-plate umpire Mark Lollo that he did not have any pitchers available to pitch a 10th inning against the Red Sox. Girardi did have Mitchell on the trip but he had thrown a side session earlier because Girardi did not expect him to get into the game. By the typical spring rules, managers are within their rights to end a tie game after nine innings if they do not feel it is in their interest to push a pitcher into throwing too much. Valentine took umbrage because he chose to warm up Clayton Mortensen in the bullpen in the bottom of the ninth. “It was regretful that Mortensen warmed up, though, and then we were told they weren’t going to play extra innings,” Valentine said. “I don’t think that was very courteous.” Courtesy is extended to those who earn it, “Booby.” Your remarks about Jeter and Alex Rodriguez earlier this spring, which were designed to get back to the Yankees, were uncalled for and extremely discourteous. So as far as see it, “Booby,” you can just suck on it. It is so ironic that it is you that are fit to be tied. Welcome to the rivalry you stoked!
The Yankees will play a pair of games on Friday.
The home squad will face the Minnesota Twins at George M. Steinbrenner Field. Ivan Nova, coming off a horrible performance against the Baltimore Orioles in Sarasota on Sunday, is expected to pitch for the Yankees in that game. The Twins will start veteran left-hander Francisco Liriano.
Game-time will be 1:05 p.m. EDT and the game will be telecast nationally by the MLB Network on tape delay and live locally on the YES Network.
The road squad will travel to Bright House Field in Clearwater, FL., to face the Philadelphia Phillies. Right-hander Hiroki Kuroda is scheduled to start for the Yankees. The Phillies will start right-hander Vance Worley.
Game-time will be 1:05 p.m. EDT and the game will be telecast nationally by the MLB Network on tape delay.