Well, at least the Yanks won’t be saddled with the incredible burden of maintaining an undefeated Spring Training, dropping a 5-4 decision to the Twins. Ian Kennedy had a good two-inning stint, allowing one hit and one walk while fanning three. However, a few Yankee pitchers coughed up a 3-1 lead in the sixth, seventh, and eighth, and the arms didn’t look quite as impressive as they had in the two previous games and wins. I believe they’ll survive.
Brett Gardner continued to set the pace in the race for starting in center, going 2-2 with a walk and stealing two bases with ease. He’s really outpacing Melky, who went 0-3 and has yet to get his first ST hit. Gardner, meanwhile, has been all over the base paths and has also impressed with his defense in center. Regardless of his being out of options, Melky will be out of a job at this rate. Through three games–and it’s assuredly early in camp–Gardner is doing everything and Melky nothing to earn the right to start in center.
Also impressing at the plate were Nick Swisher and Jorge, who each went 2-3. Terrific to see that Jorge has 4 hits in his first 5 ST at-bats. Cody Ransom is making a good bid for the utility infielder spot, going 1-3 with a run and RBI. Justin Leone, a long shot to be in The Bronx after stints with the Mariners in 2004 and the Padres in 2006, was 1-3 with a solo homer in the second inning. Xavier Nady earned the third Yankee RBI, and the fourth run came on a ninth-inning error. Lots of others added a hit apiece, including budding prospect Austin Jackson. Yet the Yanks hurt themselves at the plate, getting 14 hits and working 4 walks but only scoring 4 runs, stranding 12.
Some of the young arms struggled a bit as well. Eric Hacker labored through 1+ innings following up Kennedy, allowing three hits, two walks, and a run. Anthony Claggett was excellent in relief of him, allowing only 1 hit and striking out 1 in 2 very good innings. Andrew Brackman allowed a two-out solo homer to Jason Kubel in the sixth, George Kontos allowed three hits and a run in the seventh, fanning two, and Wilkin De La Rosa was roughed up for two hits, two runs, and two walks while fanning one. Todd Linden might have been robbed of an extra-base hit in the top of the ninth by a bad call, according to the Twins radio team, for they said that his hot shot down the left-field line drew chalk, yet the ball was called foul. He then struck out before an E-5 cut the Twins lead to 5-4.
Honestly, I don’t sweat ST games. They don’t count; they’re meant to get players fine-tuned for the regular season, settle the occasional position battle, to work on game situations and other things, iron out kinks, and get into game shape while staying healthy. I’m not overly concerned with wins and losses in February and March, and if the kids and even veterans struggle during this stretch, so be it. Better now than when April comes around, and especially with the kids, these things happen. Heck, I’m just glad that players such as Brackman are on the mound and getting some work, that Claggett availed himself well in a jam, and that others get to face some decent competition in a reasonable facsimile of a pressure situation. That Hughes and now Kennedy have begun with good, short stints are added bonuses. Winning is fine in ST; the experiences, positive and negative, count more in my mind is building blocks.
HDLR for tomorrow’s game, with Joba getting the start. It should be fun. I have a mounting cold and bad back to nurse, and bellies to feed. Pizza and salad beckon at a local purveyor of pie. Hope to see everyone tomorrow.