Thursday, March 13, 2014

By: Josh Sabo | Minor League Writer

Ivan Nova suffered a tough loss today, as the Yankees lost to the Philadelphia Phillies, 6-2, in a split-squad matchup in Clearwater, Florida.

Despite allowing three runs, Nova looked pretty good. He began the game with 4 strikeouts in the first two innings, but things began to unravel in the third, where he gave up all three of his runs in that inning. But even then he didn't look bad, rather the Yankees defense and poor luck was the reason that Nova struggled. The Yankees are probably one of the worst teams in baseball at employing the shift and this game showed how much it could cost them.

Nova began the third by allowing four straight singles. These singles were either bloops or ground balls that found a hole. These singles were hit by major league players: Ben Revere, Chase Utley, Marlon Bryd and Ryan Howard. Bryd's single scored Revere, and Howard's led to a bases loaded situation. The second run scored on a double-play ball hit by Carlos Ruiz.

Though all these hits and runs were the result of bad luck the third run was by far the luckiest, as it was set up by an infield pop-up single by Dominic Brown. Nova failed to get catch the ball, and that allowed the inning to continue, Darrin Ruf was the next batter and he made Nova pay by hitting a double to score the third run. On the play Brown got thrown out at home for the third out.

Nova rebounded in the next inning and even with his unlucky inning would have probably had a quality start. He gave up 3 runs in 5 innings with 6 strikeouts, and no walks. Yankee fans should be slightly worried about the defensive shifts this team employs, but it's not a big concern when you consider that this wasn't even their usual infield. Honeslty his zero walks are probably my main takeaway from this game, if he can keep his control in check he can be very good.

Shane Greene and Bryan Mitchell came out to pitch the bottom of the 6th and 7th innings and they both did very well.Neither pitcher  allowed a hit and they both struckout two batters. Greene was able to strikeout two major leaguers in Ruiz and Ruf, and looked pretty good doing so.

(The following link comes from Mike Axia and shows just how good his 2-seam fastball can be:

Greene is currently slated to begin the season in AA, but should be able to move pretty quickly and may be an option for a swing-man type role late in the season.

The same can be said of Mitchell, who struckout Freddy Galvis, and Cody Asche. Mitchell, like Greene, was added onto the 40-man roster this past offseason, and is looking like he may finally become the prospect that so many know he can be. He really has great stuff, and though it's a small sample size it's nice to see him throw strikes. If he keeps that up all year, he should be able to become a fairly good starting pitcher. He has a lot of upside.

Mitchell and Greene kept the Yankees in the game, and in the top of the 7th inning it really looked they might make a comeback. The inning started with a homerun by Jacoby Ellsbury to make the lead 3-1. After an out by Ichiro Suzuki, Mark Teixeira drew a walk and was pinch ran for by catcher Francisco Arcia.

The next batter was Kelly Johnson, who came through with a big double. Unfortunately Arcia was thrown out at home on the play. Johnson, however, advanced to third on the throw home, and was later pitch-ran for by Rob Segedin. Segedin scored on the very next play as  Francisco Cervelli continued his hot spring, with a single. Unfortunately the Phillies were able to end the rally by miraculously getting Yangervis Solarte to strikeout.

The two runs scored in the 7th would be the only runs the Yankees scored, but the Phillies had another 3 run inning in the 8th. Their runs all came versus Preston Claiborne who had his first bad outing of the spring. This is somewhat significant as he was considered a lock to be a part of the Yankees bullpen before the spring began. Now it seems that other players, like Matt Daley, and Dellin Betances, deserve it more. Claiborne couldn't even get out of the inning and needed Mark Montgomery to clean up his mess.


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