15 runs crossed the plate in Kissimmee between the Yankees and the Astros. In what is clearly one of the best weekends already this Spring (serious, can we bottle up today’s weather and save it forever?), a clear, cool day played host to some very interesting plays and a 3 hour, 15 minute game of baseball.
Ivan Nova started things off for the Yankees, but had a rather rough time of it today. He allowed 8 hits and 3 runs in his 4 innings, but also got 5 strikeouts. Right in the 1st inning, back-to-back singles put runners on the corner that scored on a really nice double, putting the Astros in the lead quickly 2-0. Plus Cervelli’s quick reflexes threw out a runner at 2nd, trying to score on a strikeout in the bottom of that inning.
The Yankees weren’t going to sit on that very long and answered with their own 2 runs in the 2nd. Dean Anna singled and then scored when Scott Sizemore ended up at 2nd on a throwing error. Then Sizemore tied up the game on Mason Williams’ double. So in the bottom of that inning, we dealt with our first replay review. After a single, the next Astros’ batter tried to bunt and make it to 1st, which is initially called out; the Astros’ appealed, the play was reviewed, and the call upheld. It did look like Nunez (who was covering first on the bunt) had to make an extra stretch for the bag, but he clearly tagged it before the runner did. The next batter singles home that first runner, and the Astros are up 3-2.
But the back-and-forth continues into the 3rd inning. Mark Teixeira, continuing to show signs of his pre-injury self, doubled, and then Kelly Johnson smacked a solid 2-run home run into the palm trees behind the right field fence. So the score flipped in the Yankees’ favor 4-3. (The bottom of the 3rd was Nova’s strongest inning, facing just 3 batters, striking out 2 of them.)
And we flip-flop the score again in the 5th, with Manny Banuelos pitching, his Spring debut and his first outing since his surgery and rehab began 2 years ago. The Astros batters seemed to like his pitching, though. A double and a walk set the stage for a 3-run homer, and the Astros were suddenly up 6-4. Two outs later, Chase Whitley replaced Banuelos (who was overall pretty glad to be back on the mound for real, despite the outcome) and got that last out in the 5th. Lucky for Whitley, the Yankees came storming back in the 6th, so he walked home (or rather rode the bus home) with the win today.
Loading the bases quickly in the 6th, with no outs, Anna singles, Sizemore walks, and Almonte singles. Williams’ sacrifice fly scored Anna (score: 6-5 Astros). Then Brett Gardner singled, scoring Sizemore and Almonte, and because of a really terrible throwing error (the center fielder somehow threw the ball into the Astros’ dugout), Gardner ended up at 3rd (score: 7-6 Yankees). But they left him stranded there. Cabral pitched the bottom of the 6th cleanly, keeping that lead.
But the Yankees weren’t done yet. In the 7th, with one out, Romine and Solarte each singled and ended up at the corners. Romine scored on Zelous Wheeler’s bloop single (8-6 Yankees). Then Ramon Flores only reached safely on a fielder’s choice, and Solarte scored the final Yankees run (9-6 Yankees), and I still can’t figure out why the Astros didn’t try for the play at home first. (No, really, someone needs to explain why they kept throwing the ball around without tagging a base or a runner.)
Cabral walked a batter in the 7th before Herndon finished the inning. Lewis took the 8th and continued keeping that Yankee lead safe, and despite allowing a double and a single in the 9th, Chris Leroux ended up with a save because of a nice double play between Corban Joseph (at 1st) and Yangervis Solarte (at 2nd), both of whom are proving to be really fun to watch play baseball.
So the Yankees hit the beginning of rush hour traffic outside Orlando (fortunately, as it’s Saturday, it was more Disney traffic than actually city traffic) with a win today — 9-6 Yankees. Seriously though, 15 runs is a lot of runs in one game. But a win is good news, no matter how it happens. It’s already shaping up to be a pretty great Spring, and I guess I’m hoping that translates as a good omen for a great 2014. Fingers crossed for #28 this October. It’s a long season, but it’s going to be something special.