Thursday, March 6, 2014

After an hour and a half rain delay, the Yankees and Philadelphia Phillies finally took the field in game that no one thought would be played. The Phils' hit three solo homeruns to put them up for most of the game, a two-run 8th helped the Yankees bounce the Phillies, 4-3, Thursday afternoon in Clearwater, Florida.

Down 3-1, the Bombers cut the Phillies' lead to one-run in the 7th inning when Scott Sizemore ripped a one-out double into left field to put himself into scoring position, and after a Ramon Flores flyout, Adonis Garcia singled into right field to bring in Sizemore, who slid in safely on a very close play at the plate.

An inning later, Jose Pirela doubled him Gary Sanchez, who singled to begin the inning, and Flores drove in his second run of the game on a sac-fly to right field to give the Yankees a 4-3 lead.

Masahiro Tanaka made his first start of the spring for the Yankees, facing the Phillies for the second time, and he looked pretty good once again.

He started his day by setting down Philadelphia in order in the 1st, striking out Chase Utley on a filthy splitter in the dirt to end the inning. He gave up a one-out double to Marlon Byrd in the 2nd, but was able to leave him stranded at third. Then in the 3rd inning, he gave up his first run of the spring on a solo homerun to Freddy Galvis.

"I feel that home run was a result of me not being able to get first strikes," Tanaka said.

Tanaka only pitched three innings, throwing 25 of his 41 pitches for strikes. He gave up just the one run on two hits, while striking out one.

"He looked great. He was using a lot of his pitches," Mark Teixeira said. "You saw a lot of swing-and-misses. To me, that's one of the marks of a strikeout pitcher; when you see guys just really getting fooled on pitches, and there were a bunch of swing-and-misses today."

He did a good job of working ahead of hitters, throwing his low-to-mid 90's fastball well, and he wasn't afraid to show off the splitter. He was throwing a lot of pitched in the dirt however. According to Erik Boland on Twitter, one scout had Tanaka's fastball sitting in the 90-94 mph range (there was no radar gun).

Starting in right field for Carlos Beltran, who was originally slated to start but was scratched before the game without a reason being given, Flores put the Yankees on the board in the top of the 3rd inning with a solo homerun to left field off of Kyle Kendrick.

A couple batters later, Derek Jeter singled into left field for his first hit of the spring. Jeter had been 0-for-10 up to that point. Jeter wound up getting one more at-bat in the game, and lined a double into the left-center field gap.

“Good at-bats today,” Girardi said. “For him, he hasn't played a lot in the last year, but I think it’s a good sign.”

With the game tied in the 5th inning, Carlos Ruiz and John Mayberry went back-to-back off of Bruce Billings to put the Phillies ahead of the Yankees, 3-1.

That lead held up until New York scored four unanswered runs in the 7th and 8th innings.

Mark Teixeira and Alfonso Soriano both made their spring debuts in this game, and both went 0-for-3, Soriano with strikeouts in all three at-bats. Teixeira had some good swings, and made solid contact on a flyout to center field in his second at-bat.

“Wrist felt good, body felt good, so I'm happy,” he said.

“I still haven't swung and missed,” Teixeira said. “Maybe all season I won't swing and miss. We have plenty of at-bats, so we'll make sure all those boxes get checked off. I feel good right now.”

As for Soriano, he was in the lineup for the first time since battling the flu for the past week or so. He's obviously a little rusty.

“It was a little weird; I didn't feel comfortable out there,” Soriano said. “This is spring training and that’s my first game, so I'll look to have more at-bats and get my timing quick. … That’s all the time in spring training, the first couple games are weird. Especially because I didn't have live BP I need to time the pitchers. This is spring training, so I have to keep working and get my timing quick.”

Kelly Johnson had a pretty good day at the plate, collecting a pair of hits in three at-bats, including a double. And Brian Roberts also had a good game with the glove, making a few pretty solid plays at second base.

After Tanaka, the Yankees didn't bring any pitchers to the game that you might really care about, but Chris Leroux pitched a scoreless inning, striking out two. Danny Burawa also threw a scoreless inning, and Fred Miller put in a scoreless 1 1/3 of work, with Mark Montgomery picking up the final two outs.

The Yankees are back in Tampa tomorrow when the face the Detroit Tigers at George M. Steinbrenner Field. Hiroki Kuroda gets the start for the Yankees, with Michael Pineda coming out of the bullpen for his spring debut.


Gavin Ewbank is the Lead Writer of Yanks Beat Blog


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