Saturday, March 8, 2014

Ivan Nova and Manny Banuelos gave up a combined six runs in 4.2 innings, but a two-run homerun by likely Opening Day third baseman Kelly Johnson helped the Yankees down the Houston Astros, 9-6, Saturday afternoon in Osceola County Stadium.

Mark Teixeira was in the lineup for just the second time this spring after getting yesterday off, and he had a good day at the plate, reaching base twice on a walk and a double in the 3rd inning.

After a very good showing his in second out of the spring last Monday, Nova was knocked around by a very young Astros squad.

He gave up two singles and a double to open the bottom of the 1st inning; the double from Jason Castro scored both Dexter Fowler and Jose Altuve to put Houston up 2-0. The Astros added another run off of Nova in the 2nd inning on a RBI single by Cesar Izturis.

Nova was able to get through the final two innings of his outing without giving up a run. Overall, it wasn't his best day, one of those outings that the Yankees hope to avoid this year. The Astros collected 3 runs on 8 hits off of him, and they also struck out five times against the Yankee right hander.

“Everything would stay up,” Nova said. “It was kind of hard for me to keep it down, and they took advantage of it. Even the second inning, they were hitting the ball real good.”

However, Yankees manager Joe Girardi thought that this was a good outing for Nova.

“You look at his outings so far, they've been pretty easy,” Girardi said. “Today I thought was a good outing because he found it. He struggled in the first inning finding some sink and finding his curveball, and I thought he did a good job of finding himself and giving us four innings and really not throwing a ton of pitches.”

Banuelos followed Nova in the 5th inning, but he couldn't get three outs before Girardi pulled the plug on his day.

After giving up a double to Altuve and a walk to Castro, Chris Carter took Banuelo deep for a three-run homerun. Banuelos was able to get the next two guys out, but he must have hit his pitch-limit because Girardi pulled him with two outs.

“I was happy for him that he got out there,” Girardi said. “He threw some strikes. It’s been a long road back, and he had a smile on his face because I think you appreciate a lot more. When you lose something for a while, you appreciate it a lot more when you come back.”

Down 1-0 heading into the 2nd inning, Dean Anna opened the inning with on of his two hits in the game, and then Scott Sizemore reached on a throwing error that scored Anna. After a Zoilo Almonte groundout, Mason Williams doubled to right field to bring home Sizemore.

An innings later, following the double by Teixeira, Johnson hit a homerun to right field off of Darin Down to give the Yankees a 4-3 lead.

“Honestly, that was pure trying to get him over, and I caught it out front,” Johnson said. “Always good to remember what it feels like. Better than not hitting one all spring and then going into the season trying to remember, ‘Back in September, when I hit my last one…,’ you know what I mean?”

The Yankees scored two more runs in the 6th inning on a sac-fly by Williams to bring Anna home, then Brett Gardner followed that with a single into center field, scoring both Sizemore and Almonte to put the Yankees up 7-6.

New York doubled their lead an inning later on a Zelous Wheeler single and a Ramon Flores fielder's choice.

Anna finished the game 2-for-2 with a walk and a pair of runs scored; an overall good day for him as he tries to make the team. Austin Romine also collected a pair of hits in two at-bats. And Yangervis Solarte went 1-for-2, his batting average this spring is .667.

Cesar Cabral threw a scoreless inning and didn't give up a hit, though he did walk a batter. David Herndon, Fred Lewis and Chris Leroux also threw scoreless innings. Apart from a couple of guys, the Yankees' bullpen has been solid this spring.

The Yankees are back in Tampa to host the Tampa Bay Rays tomorrow at The Boss. First pitch is scheduled for 1:05 pm and you can see the game on YES.


Gavin Ewbank is the Lead Writer of Yanks Beat Blog


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