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Sabathia gives Yankees a strong start in win over the Marlins

03/15/2013 6:32 PM ET
By Lou DiPietro

CC Sabathia gave up two runs over five innings in his first official Spring Training start on Friday.(AP)
TAMPA -- CC Sabathia gave the Yankees a workhorse performance in his Grapefruit League debut, and designated hitter Travis Hafner blasted his first homer as a Yankee as the Bombers topped the Miami Marlins, 7-3, at Steinbrenner Field on Friday.

Making his official spring debut, Sabathia threw nearly 70 pitches in five frames, allowing two runs on eight hits, but never letting the Marlins break the game open. He showed a little rust in the infancy of the game, giving up two singles and a walk to the first three batters, but coaxed a 5-5-3 double play off the bat of ex-Yankee Austin Kearns to minimize the damage. Sabatha gave up both of his runs in that first inning -- allowing a two-out single to Rob Brantly to score the second -- but then settled down, surrendering nothing but singles the rest of the way and letting his defense get him out of a couple of jams.

"He got better as the day went on, which I'm really pleased with," manager Joe Girardi said of Sabathia after the game. "It was his first game with those surroundings, and I think his slider got better, his changeup got better. I was happy,"

"It was good to get out there and face some hitters; my changeup was good. My fastball command could've been better," Sabathia said, "but it was pretty good for my first time out."

The Yankees' offense gave their ace the lead back quickly when Francisco Cervelli hit his first spring homer, a solo shot, in the second, before Hafner's two-run shot in the third gave the Yankees a 3-2 lead.

Donavan Solano's RBI single in the seventh tied it back at 3-3, but the Yankees tallied twice in both the seventh and eighth to finish the scoring. In the seventh, the Yankees loaded the bases on a Jose Pirela triple, a walk and a hit by pitch, and then took advantage of a pair of miscues by catcher J.T. Realmuto. A passed ball allowed Pirela to score and, two batters later, a bad pickoff throw let Gil Velazquez trot home from third to make it 5-3.

Pirela was then at the center of attention again in the eighth, tripling with one out to drive in Francisco Arcia and scoring the final run himself on Thomas Neal's double.

Joba Chamberlain, David Robertson, Mark Montgomery and Vidal Nuno all pitched an inning in relief, with Robertson allowing the final run that was charged to an already-departed Chamberlain.

The Yankees will split the squad and play two on Saturday, with Joe Girardi hoping to managing both. He will lead one team, which includes Derek Jeter, into battle in Tampa against the Phillies at noon, then drive to Lake Buena Vista to see the other half take on the Braves at 5:05 p.m. Hiroki Kuroda will be on the mound in the first game, which will be televised live on YES, and David Phelps is set to go in the nightcap.

Follow Lou DiPietro on Twitter: @LouDiPietroYES

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