Let’s call this some late revenge for all the trouble they gave us last year. Showalter’s starting Orioles stars just couldn’t compete with the Yankees’ minor leaguers and bench players/injury substitutes (plus Brett Gardner, who went 1-for-4 with 2 strikeouts). For all the talk about how amazing the O’s are and will be this season, they certainly didn’t bring their A-game to tonight’s game, losing to the Yankees 11-8 and committing 5 fielding errors.
So let’s talk about how the Yankees were awesome tonight. David Phelps threw 5 innings, striking out 9 batters and only allowing 4 hits, 3 runs, and 2 walks. Bobby Wilson, Mason Williams, and Melky Mesa all notched doubles of 3 different Orioles pitchers. Brennan Boesch, and Ben Francisco each swung for the fences with home runs in the 1st and 3rd innings, respectively. And RBIs were in abundance by Eduardo Nunez and Boesch (each with one) and Wilson, Williams, and Addison Maruszak (each with two).
Speaking of Maruszak, a last-minute replacement for Ronnier Mustelier who was scratched due to a sore knee, but really another excellent job again, this time at 3rd base. He had some nifty defensive moves including a nice scooping grab and toss to 1st for the out. He’s really turning into something of a utility player, and his offense was excellent tonight getting a nice RBI single and scoring a run himself. For someone who’ll be starting in AA/AAA this year, he’s certainly showing marketed improvement in recent years and is really becoming a player that could make a mark on a future starting roster, with that future being much sooner than previous estimations.
And again, this is what’s so awesome about Spring Training — we get to see player development and prospects firsthand. I know last year, it was tonight’s starter (Phelps) that really took people by surprise and look where he is now — in competition for the 5th starters position, probably settling into a nice long-relief bullpen during the healthy season, covering Phil Hughes while he recovers from his back injury at the beginning of the season. Did anyone see Phelps coming in 2012? Maybe a handful of people, but it was last Spring that brought him to the forefront for everyone, especially Girardi.
So who is this year’s Phelps? There are many possibilities, like Vidal Nuno (who is now contending for a bullpen job), Mustelier (an excellent infielder with a power bat), and Juan Rivera (who is really finding a home over at 1st covering for Teixeira). And there are so many player contributions to the progress of the 2013 team already, who will probably find their 2013 home in Tampa, Trenton, or Scranton. I guess that’s part of the fun of Spring — you never know who’s going to be the next necessary cog in the Yankees machine, and really, it can be anyone, from the superstar high-contract veteran players right on down to the young non-roster invitees. It’s what makes it all about the team and not just the superstar high-contract veterans.