Vernon Wells, Lyle Overbay make Yankees debuts in Bombers' 4-4 tie with Astros
CC Sabathia pitched five innings in his final spring start and Vernon Wells had an RBI in his debut, but 10 innings wasn’t enough to determine a winner as the Yankees and Astros played to a 4-4 deadlock in Tampa.
Sabathia allowed four runs on six hits in his five frames, striking out four while walking three and getting into most of his trouble in the first inning. Jose Altuve’s leadoff walk was erased when Chris Stewart threw him out trying to steal second, but back-to-back doubles by Brett Wallace and Chris Carter got Houston on the board before Justin Maxwell doubled in Carter and Carlos Corporan singled home Maxwell for a 3-0 lead.
The Astros got another run in the fourth thanks to Brandon Barnes’ solo home run, but the Yankees’ bullpen quintet of Mariano Rivera (1 IP, 1 K), David Robertson (1 IP, 1 H, 1 BB, 1 K), Joba Chamberlain (1 IP, 1 H, 1 K), and Boone Logan (1 IP, 1 H, 2 K) threw four scoreless innings before Vidal Nuno (1 IP, 1H) got himself into and out of trouble in the extra frame.
Offensively, the Yankees got on the board in the fifth when Eduardo Nunez singled and stole second ahead of Brett Gardner’s RBI triple off Astros starter Brad Peacock, and the Bombers got three in the sixth off Wesley Wright courtesy of pinstripers old, new, newer, and newest.
Robinson Cano led off the inning with a single, and Kevin Youkilis continued his hot spring with a double that plated Cano to make it 4-2. Travis Hafner then singled and advanced to second on a wild throw home, and Vernon Wells followed with an RBI groundout to make it 4-3.
Juan Rivera’s walk and Eduardo Nunez’s groundout put runners on second and third with two outs, and Chris Stewart followed with a single to center that tied the game at 4-4; it could have given the Yankees the lead, but Rivera was gunned down at the plate trying to score, ending the inning and keeping the game deadlocked.
The Bombers would get at least one runner on in each of the final four innings, but were unable to get the winning tally across. Their best chance came when Travis Hafner doubled to lead off the eighth, Barnes bailed the Astros out by recording their second outfield assist to the plate on the night, gunning down pinch-runner Neil Medchill to rob new Yankee Lyle Overbay of a sacrifice fly.
All told, the Yankees had eight hits, with Hafner (3-for-4, run) and Gardner (2-for-3, BB, RBI) the offensive stars. Wells was 0-for-3 with that RBI in his Yankees debut, and Juan Rivera, who may now be battling Overbay to be the Yankees’ Opening Day first baseman, was 0-for-2 with a walk.
The Yankees are now 12-17-1 in Grapefruit League play, and have two games left in Florida before they head north to finish out Spring Training. The Bombers will travel to Sarasota to face the Orioles at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, then close out their Florida sojourn by hosting the Pirates at Steinbrenner Field on Thursday afternoon.
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