ASTROS 8, YANKEES 6
KISSIMMEE – Hunter Pence hit a two-run, two-out double in the fourth inning to put the Astros up 5-4 and Houston went on to defeat the New York Yankees 8-6 on Saturday at Osceola County Stadium.
Bret Myers (3-0) was the winning pitcher, despite giving up four runs (three earned) on eight hits and three walks. Shane Loux pitched 1 2/3 innings and got credit for a save. Alfredo Aceves (1-1) took a step back in his bid to be the No. 5 starter and took the loss.
The Yankees spring record fell to 8-10. The Astros improved their Grapefruit League mark to 9-7.
- The Yankees pounded out 16 hits, including five doubles, two triples and a home run. They also reached base via three walks, a hit batsman and one error. Yet, they scored only six runs.
- Brett Gardner is beginning to show what he can do as the No. 9 hitter and the starting center fielder. He bunted for a base hit in his first at-bat and stroked a stand-up triple the next time. He has raised his spring average to .281.
- Alex Rodriguez also is beginning to get his swing and timing down. He blasted a pair of doubles and drove in two runs. he is now batting .320. In the field, he made an outstanding stab in the first inning to rob Pence of a hit and saved a run.
- Robinson Cano started off the Yankees’ scoring with a leadoff home run in second inning. The home run cleared the fence in center field at the 410 mark. It was Cano’s first home run of the spring.
- Third-string catcher Mike Rivera, making a rare start ahead of Francisco Cervelli, knocked in a run with a double in the fourth inning.
- Boone Logan, bidding to make the bullpen as a second left-hander, was the only Yankees’ pitcher who managed a scoreless outing. He pitched an inning, giving up one hit and striking out one batter. He lowered his spring ERA to 2.57.
- A couple of the minor-league reserves need mentioning: Infielder Jorge Vazquez was 2-for-2 off the bench and Colin Curtis increased his team lead in RBIs this spring with his eighth RBI in the ninth inning on a sacrifice fly.
- Today’s loss was all about bad pitching. Aceves gave up five runs on five hits and a walk. His spring ERA entering the game was 0.90. It rose to 3.77. Aceves opened with three shutout innings but then was touched up for two runs in the fourth and three more in the fifth.
- Mark Melancon, who actually has pitched well this spring, did not provide much relief for Aceves in the fifth. After a Kevin Russo error allowed one inherited runner to score, Melancon gave up the two-run double to Pence that scored two more inherited runners. Melancon then gave a single to Carlos Lee that scored Pence.
- Dustin Moseley pitched a solid seventh inning and then gave up a two-run home run to DH Cory Sullivan in the eighth, making the deficit 8-5 in the ninth.
- When you put 21 runners on base like the Astros did you should lose. But they didn’t because the Yankees were a dreadful 3-for-15 with runners in scoring position.
- The first inning was a great example of how the day went. Gardner reached on his bunt base hit and then was promptly picked off first by catcher Humberto Quintero. Nick Johnson and Mark Teixeira drew consecutive walks. But Rodriguez grounded into an inning-ending double play.
- In the fifth, with one out Teixeira singled and Rodriguez doubled. However, Myers ended his outing by striking out Cano and Marcus Thames.
- Thames posted another 0-fer on Saturday with two strike outs and fly out. He is now hitting .120 and he is sinking quickly into non-roster oblivion.
- In the seventh inning the Yankees had the bases loaed with one out however, Curtis popped out to the shortstop and Cervelli was called out on strikes.
The Yankees drew a record crowd of 7,020 to Osceola County Stadium for the Astros. The previous record was 6,904 set in 2003 in a game against the New York Mets. . . . One reason for the great crowd was the great weather. The game-time temperature was 66 degrees with sunny skies and a slight 5 mph breeze towards right. . . . Nick Johnson showed off his skills as a No. 2 hitter by walking twice and scoring a run in his three trips. Johnson leads the starters this spring with a .483 on-base percentage. . . . Curtis Granderson told reporters back in Tampa that his right hand was fine after being struck by a pitch from the Rays’ Jeff Niemann on Friday night. Granderson was not scheduled to make the trip to Kissimmee, FL on Saturday and stayed at the Tampa spring complex and took batting practice. “I iced it [the hand), woke up this morning and felt fine,” Granderson told reporters. . . . Manager Joe Girardi said his decision on a No. 5 starter might come next Thursday or Friday. However, Aceves’ setback Saturday and Chad Gaudin’s weak outing Friday has kind of scrambled the field. Phil Hughes would appear to be the leader now with a 2.08 ERA but a lot can change in a week. . . . A personal note to the Yankee fan in the crowd who decided to interject himself into a seat dispute that did not even concern him. You are absolutely Exhibit A of why people direct their anger at the Yankees as team and their fans. It’s the behavior of rude fans like you that make it hard on decent Yankee fans to cheer on the team they love. I also notice you left the game early and somebody took your seat, which kind of proves an ironic point.
THE NEXT GAME
The Yankees will stay in Tampa to play host to the Detroit Tigers on Saturday. A.J. Burnett will make the start for the Yankees. He will be followed by Phil Hughes, who will try to take another step towards winning the battle for the No. 5 spot. The Tigers will be starting their ace, Justin Verlander.
Game-time will be 1:05 p.m. EDT and the game will be broadcast by the YES Network.