Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Brett Gardner gave the Yankees a 4-1 lead in the 4th inning on a single to left field, driving in two runs to extend the Bombers' lead over the Tampa Bay Rays.

But as it turned out, that would not be enough for the Yankees to overcome a four-run 5th inning by Tampa, due in large part to Robert Coello, who gave up a pair of homeruns in the inning, as the Yanks would go on to lose to the Rays, 5-4, Wednesday in Port Charlotte, Florida.

Coello opened the 5th inning by hitting Mikie Mahtook with a pitch, then gave up a single to Ben Zobrist, who homered in the first inning of the game. The next batter, Desmond Jennings, tied the game with a three-run homerun to right field.

After getting Even Longoria to groundout for the first out of the inning, Coello served up another homerun, this time solo shot Matt Joyce to give the Rays a 5-4 lead. Coello was pulled after that, giving up four runs on three hits in 1/3 of an inning -- his spring ERA is 48.60.

The Yankees had taken a 2-0 lead in the 1st inning of this game after Eduardo Nunez and Ichiro Suzuki collected back-to-back one-out single, setting up an RBI single by Russ Canzler, who has been playing a lot of first base this spring in place of Mark Teixeira, who expects to play in his first game tomorrow, and a RBI groundout by Kelly Johnson.

Tampa answered back in the bottom of the 1st when Zobrist went deep off of Adam Warren, who got the call for the Yankees.

Warren wasn't at his best once against in his second start of the spring, but it wasn't start that hurt his chances of making the club out of spring training. He left after just 2.1 inning, giving up one run -- the homerun -- on four hits, while striking out two, and he didn't walk anybody.

“I was a little ill about the walks last outing, so I kind of really focused on that,” Warren said. “I still want to get in better counts, get ahead of batters a little better. I’ll keep working on that. I still need to refine some things, but that’s what spring training is for. I’m trying to take the next step each outing, refine some things and get ready for the season.”

Zobrist's homer made it a 2-1 score, which would hold up until Gardner's two-out, two run single in the 4th inning off of Rays reliever Grant Balfour. Gardner finished the game 1-for-3.

Dellin Betances made his third appearance of the spring, and he pitched very well once again, tossing 1.2 scoreless innings. He has yet to give up a run in the 5.2 innings his pitched this spring. According the the Rays radio announcers, Betances was commanding his offspeed pitches well, leading to his success against Tampa today.

There are a lot of spots in the Yankees' bullpen that are up for grabs at the moment, and the Yankees were hoping that Betances, and maybe Cesar Cabral, could put together a good enough spring for the Yankees to want him in Houston Opening Day. If he continues to pitch well, he can be an important are in the bullpen this summer.

“I think he’s more comfortable,” Austin Romine said of Betances. “Last year was big. He got up, got some experience, and I think his comfort level is a lot better. He’s able to make adjustments pitch to pitch, hitter to hitter.

"Today was case in point: he went out, lost his feel for his slider, got it back the next at-bat. He makes good adjustments. Before he would just try to grip it and throw it harder. Now he’s settling down, hitting his spot. He’s a lot more productive. … There’s a lot more life on the ball. Pitches are good. Offspeed is in the zone. He’s got more fastball command. I really can’t say enough about him.”

Matt Daley threw 2/3 of a scoreless inning, giving up two hits. Yoshinori Tateyama was pretty good again today, tossing two scoreless innings. And Jim Miller struck out two in a clean 8th inning of work.

Yangervis Solarte picked up another hit today, going 1-for-3. Zoilo Almonte went 1-for-2. But today's offensive standout was Nunez, who went 3-for-3.

The Yankees head to Clearwater tomorrow to face the Philadelphia Phillies for the second time this spring. Masahiro Tanaka will be on he mound for the Bombers, making his first start of the spring, but his second appearance overall. Mark Teixeira and Alfonso Soriano are also expected to make their spring debuts tomorrow.


Gavin Ewbank is the Lead Writer of Yanks Beat Blog


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