In an ideal tuneup for Opening Day, the Yankees beat the Marlins in a well-pitched ballgame by a 4-2 score. The decisive blow came with the Yanks trailing 2-1 in the ninth inning and facing Florida closer Kevin Gregg. Shelley Duncan struck out to start the inning, but Greg Porter walked and Cody Ransom singled. Chad Moeller then hit a three-run, stand-up, inside-the-park homer to give the Yankees the lead and, eventually, the win.
L – Johnny Damon (LF)
R – Derek Jeter (SS)
L – Bobby Abreu (RF)
R – Alex Rodriguez (3B)
L – Jason Giambi (1B)
S – Jorge Posada (C)
L – Robinson Cano (2B)
L – Hideki Matsui (DH)
S – Melky Cabrera (CF)
Pitchers: Phil Hughes, Billy Traber, Mariano Rivera, Kyle Farnsworth, Brian Bruney, Joba Chamberlain, Ross Ohlendorf
Subs: Shelley Duncan (PR/1B), Cody Ransom (2B), Wilson Betemit (SS), Morgan Ensberg (3B), Jose Molina (C), Jason Lane (RF), Bernie Castro (CF), Greg Porter (LF), Chad Moeller (DH)
Opposition: The Marlins’ starters.
Big Hits: A double by Damon (1 for 2, BB), a solo homer by Melky Cabrera (2 for 3) and that inside-the-park homer by Chad Moeller (1 for 1). Jason Giambi was 2 for 3.
Who Pitched Well: Everyone. Phil Hughes allowed two runs (one unearned) on three hits and a walk in five innings and struck out four. He still got most of his outs in the air, but he was far more efficient, needing just 69 pitches, and he retired the last ten men he faced in order. Six of the eight members of the Opening Day bullpen pitched (LaTroy Hawkins and Jonathan “Andy Pettitte’s Roster Spot” Albaladejo being the exception) and combined they put up this line: 4 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 6 K. Mariano Rivera recorded the only fly out. The pen’s other 11 outs came via strikeout or groundout. Kyle Farnsworth and Brian Bruney both struck out the only two men they faced. The two hits were doubles off Billy Traber and Ross Ohlendorf.
Oopsies: A fielding error by Derek Jeter.
Ouchies: A groundball struck Jeter’s pinky (I assume the right one, since the left one would have been in his glove) during batting practice. He played in the game, but went 0 for 2, made an error, and came out earlier than the other starters. Still, he’s expected to be in the Opening Day lineup despite the bruised finger.
More: Scott Patterson got “a little heated” when he was sent down, but he’ll buck up and try to pitch his way back. To me the most interesting part of that article by MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch comes at the end:
The right-hander said he developed the mental toughness to deal with successful hitters during the offseason in the Venezuelan Winter League, facing players such as Miguel Cabrera and Jose Castro.
“I knew then that I’d be able to do OK against Major League hitters,” Patterson said.
Did he mean Juan Castro? And even if he did, does a 35-year-old with a career .231/.269/.336 line really qualify as a “Major League hitter”? Either way, Miguel Cabrera definitely counts.
Wilson Betemit declined Morgan Ensberg’s offer of $5,000 for uniform number 14, so Ensberg will take number 11, which was worn by Chris Woodward during spring training and Doug Mientkiewicz last year. A couple of anecdotes about Joe Girardi. And finally, per Joel Sherman, Brian Cashman “envisions” both Shelley Duncan and Morgan Ensberg starting against the tougher lefties in the league. I imagine that scenario would put Duncan in left in place of the lefty-challenged Bobby Abreu and Ensberg at first base in place of either Giambi or, if Giambi shifts to DH for those games, Matsui. If either of the latter two are in a groove, they won’t need the sub, but subbing Shelley in for Abreu against lefties is a good move, though I wonder to what degree Joe Girardi will actually execute that plan.