Thursday, February 27, 2014

Derek Jeter made his spring debut for the Yankees Thursday, playing in his first major league gamer since September 7th of 2013, and even though he didn't get any hits, Jeter left the game healthy, and that's all you can ask for.

The Yankees' bullpen is where you can point the fingers once again, a day after giving up four runs in the 7th inning to lose the game. A three-run homerun by Mel Rojas Jr. was just part of the  five-run 8th inning that helped lead the Pittsburgh Pirates to victory over the Yankees for the second day in-a-row, winning 8-2 at George M. Steinbrenner Field.

Jeter was the story of the game for obvious reasons. He played five innings at shortstop and went 0-for-2 at the plate.

He grounded into a double play in his first at-bat following a walk by Brett Gardner to lead off the bottom of the first, then groundout out to the third baseman.

It was a very good sign that Jeter ran hard down to first base on both of his groundouts, and did not come up limping or favoring his right ankle. He's said often that he feels great, and it looked like he wasn't lying after seeing him play today.

"I feel like I haven't played a game in a couple of years," Jeter said. "That’s what it felt like, even though I played a couple last year. I think just getting out there (felt good). I don't know if there’s one thing in particular, but just getting into a game, feeling good, that’s what I was most excited about."

The Pirates took a 1-0 lead in the first inning off of Yankees starter David Phelps. Gregory Polanco, the second batter of the game, launched a solo homerun to right field.

Phelps worked his way through two innings, giving up just the one run on the homerun and a single in the 2nd inning. He struck out four batter, all looking, and didn't issue a single walk. The homerun didn't get him off to a good start, but he settled in pretty well, had his fastball going for him, and certainly did not hurt himself in the race for the fifth starter job.

"I was trying to get the first guy to swing, and he wouldn't take the bat off his shoulder," Phelps said. "I'll take it. The biggest thing I want to do this year is throw strikes, and if they're going to let me get them, I'm going to keep putting them in there."

The home run came on a curveball that Phelps, and didn't think that it would be hit that hard.

"I threw two arm-side sliders, one inside to a righty, one backdoor to a lefty for a strikeout," he said. "And then two glove-side fastballs. Kind of crossing patterns. … I didn't get behind too many guys, and the fastball command was there. For Day 1, I'll take it."

Kelly Johnson, your likely starting third baseman, drove in the Yankees' first run of the game in the 5th inning on a double to center field, scoring Francisco Cervelli from first base, who singled to lead off the innings.

Pittsburgh retook the lead in the 6th inning on an RBI double by Jaff Deck, then John Ryan Murphy, who has look impressive in his first handful of at-bats this spring, tied the game once again with a single into left field.

Both of the Yankees' only runs of the game came off of Pirates reliever Brandon Cumpton.

But once Murphy tied the game, the Pirates scored six unanswered runs, five in the 8th, with all five being charged to non-roster invitee Robert Coello.

Chris Leroux, a former Pirate, pitched two scoreless innings for the Yankees. Jim Miller three hits and a run over 1.2 innings, and Yoshinori Tateyama throw 1 1/3 innings of scoreless ball.

Gardner was 1-for-1 with a walk his second game of the spring. Both Ichiro Suzuki and Brian Roberts went 0-for-2 -- they were the No. 3 and 4 hitters in the lineup. Cervelli spent five innings behind the plate and went 1-for-2 with the bat. Russ Canzler got a hit, playing first base. And Austin Romine went hitless in two at-bats.

The Yankees will get back on the bus and head to Lakeland tomorrow to take on the Detroit Tigers at 1:05pm EST; Adam Warren will take the mound against Max Scherzer. That game will not be on YES, but Jacoby Ellsbury, Brian McCann and Carlos Beltran are expected to be in uniform for the game.

Jeter won't be playing in that game, but Yankees manager Joe Girardi expects that he'll be back in the lineup Saturday for their game against the Philadelphia Phillies in Tampa.

"Everyone always says spring training is too long," Jeter said. "But if you miss a whole spring training, then you realize why it is so long. You need to play games. You need different situations to happen. I haven't played too many games in the past year and a half, so I'm looking forward to playing more and more games.

"You can work out all you want in the offseason, but until you start getting in the flow of the game, you really can't prepare for that. … Right now I'm not where I want to be, but that’s why we have 30-something games in spring training."


Gavin Ewbank is the Lead Writer of Yanks Beat Blog, and you can follow him on Twitter @GavinEwbank.


Post a Comment