Kevin Youkilis, Hiroki Kuroda shine as Yankees top Cardinals, 4-0
To paraphrase Earl Weaver, the New York Yankees got themselves a "Youk and a blast" on Monday, with Kevin Youkilis' first home run as a Bronx Bomber all the offense the Yankees would need in their 4-0 win over the St. Louis Cardinals in Tampa.
Youkilis made his first start of the spring at first base on Monday, but certainly showed no effect from the position switch in the batter's box; Youk was 1-for-2 with 2 RBI on the day, with his fourth inning solo shot getting the Yankees on the board and a sixth-inning sacrifice fly plating Brett Gardner with the team's second run.
The Yankees would then double that lead in the seventh, scoring two more runs thanks to the wildness of Cardinals pitchers. Chris Stewart and Corban Joseph led off the inning with back-to-back singles, but after striking out Ronnier Mustelier, Cardinals reliever Seth Maness walked Slade Heathcott to load the bases and then hit Matt Diaz with a pitch, bringing in Stewart.
Maness was then replaced by Victor Marte, who struck out Travis Hafner before walking Zoilo Almonte to force in Joseph and give the Yankees the 4-0 lead.
That was more than enough for the dominant Yankee hurlers, who recorded their second straight shutout by stifling a Cardinals offense that had scored a Grapefruit League-leading 99 runs coming in.
Hiroki Kuroda started and turned in a gem in his second "official" Grapefruit outing, tossing four scoreless innings while allowing just three hits and striking out six, and David Robertson and Joba Chamberlain allowed one hit apiece in pitching scoreless innings in the fifth and sixth. Top prospect Dellin Betances looked strong in pitching the seventh and eighth, allowing just an infield single and hitting one batter in his two frames, and Shawn Kelley finished off with a perfect ninth to seal the win.
Back on the offensive side, Brett Gardner went 1-for-2, singling ahead of Youkilis' sac fly to make it 11 straight spring games that he has reached base. Corban Joseph also had a good day, going 2-for-4 and making a pair of nice defensive plays at second base, and Ichiro Suzuki continued his hot spring with a first-inning double.
With the win, the Yankees improve to 5-11 on the spring, and will hit the road to look for win No.6 when they face the Rays in Port Charlotte, Fla., on Tuesday afternoon.
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