This game was far closer than it looked. The two teams were held scoreless on just three combined hits through five innings and heading into the bottom of the eighth, it was tied 1-1. The Yankees then broke it wide open, a grand slam by Austin Jackson doing the heavy lifting. Thus the 7-1 final.
L – Johnny Damon (LF)
R – Derek Jeter (SS)
S – Mark Teixeira (1B)
L – Hideki Matsui (DH)
S – Jorge Posada (C)
L – Robinson Cano (2B)
R – Xavier Nady (RF)
R – Cody Ransom (3B)
L – Brett Gardner (CF)
That looks a lot like the Opening Day lineup.
Subs: Shelley Duncan (1B), Doug Bernier (2B), Ramiro Peña (SS), Angel Berroa (3B), P.J. Pilittere (C), Todd Linden (RF), Melky Cabrera (CF), Austin Jackson (LF), Eduardo Nuñez (DH)
Pitchers: A.J. Burnett, Jonathan Albaladejo, Mariano Rivera, Damaso Marte, Edwar Ramirez
Opponent: The Red Sox’s B-team.
Brett Gardner (1-for-2) tripled off Jacoby Ellsbury’s glove in center, setting up the first Yankee run. Angel Berroa (1-for-1) broke the 1-1 tie in the bottom of the eighth with an RBI double. Austin Jackson (1-for-1) crushed a Devern Hansack pitch over the left-field foul pole for a game-breaking grand slam.
Who Pitched Well:
A.J. Burnett dominated for five innings, allowing just one hit and issuing one walk while holding the Red Sox scoreless. In the sixth he allowed an infield hit and hit a batter before giving up an RBI single to David Ortiz. He then walked a man and was pulled after 81 pitches (he had been scheduled to throw 75). Jonathan Albaladejo came in with two outs and the bases loaded and got Rocco Baldelli to ground into a force out to end the inning. Mariano Rivera was perfect again, striking out two in the seventh. Edwar Ramirez, who is no longer wearing his prescription goggles, pitched around a single and struck out two in a scoreless inning and a third.
Damaso Marte allowed a walk and a single and committed an error in the eighth while recording just two outs.
Brett Gardner created the first Yankee run by himself by turning a misplay by Jacoby Ellsbury into a triple, then scoring ahead of the throw home on a groundout to first base that didn’t leave the infield grass. Melky Cabrera walked in his only plate appearance. Ramiro Peña was credited with an infield hit on an attempted sacrifice bunt on which the Red Sox’s pitcher flattened the first baseman as he attempted to field the ball. Angel Berroa delivered a tie-breaking RBI double in his only at-bat. Jonathan Albaladejo retired the only man he faced to escape the bases-loaded, two-out jam he was brough into. Edwar Ramirez has likely firmed up his bullpen spot as he’s struck out six against just one walk and no homers in 5 1/3 spring innings, posting a 1.69 ERA, though Alabaladejo and David Robertson‘s spring stats are even better. If it were me, I’d take Robertson, Albaladejo, and Coke, and make Edwar and Jose Veras battle it out for the last spot. Instead, we’re likely to see Ramirez, Veras, Brett Tomko, and Coke head north, though Tomko’s non-roster status and the Yankees additional need to make room for a non-roster infielder could save us from that decision.
Juan Miranda, who could be the player dropped to make room for a non-roster player, was optioned to Triple-A. Austin Jackson and Eduardo Nuñez were reassigned to minor league camp. Nuñez will head to Double-A where he’ll try to prove he can hit, though he never has before. Jackson will be the starting center fielder in Scranton. Should Gardner and Cabrera fall on their faces, Jackson could be given a shot at the major league job mid-year, but I expect he’ll be a September call-up and will battle (and likely defeat) the incumbent for the major league job in camp next year. He’s just 22, so I wouldn’t mind seeing things play out that way as he could use a full year at Triple-A.
Jorge Posada threw out Jacoby Ellsbury stealing last night. It wasn’t a perfect throw. Derek Jeter had to make a leaping swipe tag to get Ellsbury on the helmet (which he missed, by the way, but Jeter got the call). Still, Posada reported no discomfort afterwords and the throw was fast, strong, and straight, if a bit off-target. Phil Coke, who has been out due to a bruise suffered when a combacker hit him in the leg, is scheduled to pitch tomorrow.