Paging Darrell Rasner . . .
L – Johnny Damon (CF)
R – Derek Jeter (SS)
L – Jason Giambi (1B)
R – Alex Rodriguez (3B)
L – Hideki Matsui (LF)
R – Todd Pratt (C)
L – Robinson Cano (2B)
S – Melky Cabrera (RF)
L – Doug Mientkiewicz (DH)
Pitchers: Jeff Karstens, Sean Henn, Mike Martinez, Chris Britton, Scott Proctor, Luis Vizcaino, Eric Wordekemper
Subs: Andy Phillips (PR/1B), Miguel Cairo (2B), Chris Basak (SS), Marcos Vechionacci (3B), Wil Nieves (C), Austin Jackson (RF), Kevin Reese (CF), Kevin Thompson (LF), Josh Phelps (DH)
Opposition: The Tigers’ starting nine.
Big Hits: Doubles by Todd Pratt (1 for 3), Jason Giambi (2 for 2, BB), Alex Rodriguez (1 for 3), Doug Mientkiewicz (1 for 3), and minor leaguer Austin Jackson (1 for 2). Pratt’s and Rodriguez’s were ground-rule doubles, both touched by fans down the left field line.
Who Pitched Well?: Scott Proctor pitched a perfect sixth. Luis Vizcaino pitched a perfect seventh. Minor league reliever Mike Martinez (who is not 7’2″ as his Baseball Cube page claims; He may not even be his official height of 6’2″), got Omar Infante to pop out to strand the three runners he inherited from Henn in the fourth. Chris Britton pitched around a pair of singles for a scoreless fifth inning.
Who Didn’t?: Jeffrey Karstens had his second straight poor outing, putting his grip on the fifth starter’s in question. Karstens lasted just two innings due to elbow stiffness, allowing six runs on six hits and two walks, the big shot being a three-run homer by Gary Sheffield which put the score at 4-0 after just four Tiger batters. In his last two starts, Karstens has allowed ten runs on twelve hits in 6 1/3 innings. Sean Henn’s scoreless spring came to an end when he gave up three runs on five hits and three walks over 1 2/3 innings while striking out no one. Henn’s line would have been worse had Martinez not come in to get the final out of the fourth after Henn had walked a man to load the bases.
Oopsies: Henn threw two wild pitches, both fastballs in the dirt that Pratt was unable to stop. Alex Rodriguez muffed a humpback liner in the third, tipping it into foul territory, but was not charged with an error. Rodriguez also nearly threw away an inning-ending 5-4 fielder’s choice in the second, but was saved by a nice stretch by Robinson Cano. He then made up for his third-inning muff in the fourth by making a great diving stop to his right to turn a would-be double into a 5-3 groundout.
Ouchies: Jeff Karstens left yesterday’s game after just two rough innings and 46 pitches because of stiffness in his pitching elbow. Andy Pettitte will throw a bullpen today with the hope of throwing a lighter session on Wednesday and starting Friday’s game. Chien-Ming Wang tossed a ball with Ron Guidry for ten minutes yesterday. According to Peter Abraham: “He made 70 throws, most from a distance of 120 feet. And he was throwing from a semi windup and putting some zip on the ball.” Abraham quotes Wang as saying “I don’t feel anything. Yesterday I felt it when I walked. Today, nothing.” (Incidentally, Abraham refers to Wang’s injury as a “tear” when it’s actually just a strain). Despite these encouraging signs, the Yankees are not adjusting Wang’s timetable, instead saying that he’s just keeping his arm in shape while his hamstring heals. Jorge Posada missed his second straight game with an illness characterized by a sore throat.
Battles: Sean Henn gave Ron Villone a reprieve and Jeff Karstens opened the door for Darrell Rasner. Chris Britton didn’t really look all that sharp and his scoreless inning was likely too little, too late. Andy Phillips and Josh Phelps combined to go 0 for 3 with three fly outs, none of them particularly deep. Todd Pratt went 1 for 3 with a double. Wil Nieves went 1 for 2. Pratt’s double is the only extra base hit between the two catching candidates. Pratt also has the pair’s only walk this spring.
Notes: During the YES broadcast, John Flaherty recalled an embarrassing incident in 2005 when he was facing Tigers’ lefty Wil Ledezma and he struck out on a pitch that actually hit him in the back shoulder. Flaherty said that the incident was proof of how out of whack he was at the plate, and perhaps the first indication he had that he was on the verge of retirement. Michael Kay asked if his teammates made fun of him for striking out on a pitch that hit him. Flaherty said that they did indeed, singling out Jeter as a prime offender. The YES camera’s then showed Jeter in the dugout and Flaherty said, with more than a little bitterness in his voice: “Derek Jeter knows how to give teammates a hard time when things don’t go well.” Ouch.