Yankees top Tigers for first Grapefruit League win

"Bronx Bombers" smack four homers en route to victory
02/28/2014 4:30 PM ET
By Lou DiPietro

Brian McCann's solo homer put the Yankees on the board on Friday.(AP)
The Yankees lived up to their "Bronx Bombers" nickname on Friday, smashing four home runs en route to a 7-4 win over the Tigers at Joker Marchant Stadium in Lakeland, Fla.

All seven Yankees runs scored via the big fly, with the outburst helping them to their first win on the Grapefruit League season. Brian McCann started the party in the second inning, smacking a solo shot to right, and catcher Gary Sanchez followed with one of his own in the third to make it 2-0.

That score held up until the seventh, when the Yankees offense channeled the old Earl Weaver-era Orioles with a couple bloops and a couple blasts; after Antoan Richardson grounded out to open the inning, five straight Yankees reached base, with Jose Pirela smacking a two-run shot to left and Yangervis Solarte later hammering a three-run homer over the left field fence to make it 7-0.

Detroit rallied in the bottom of the frame, scoring four runs off minor-league signee Brian Gordon, but the defense of center fielder Ramon Flores helped stem the tide from getting any higher; with the bases loaded, one out, and the Yankees holding a 7-1 lead, Tigers right fielder Steven Moya hit an RBI single, but Flores kept it to a one-run hit by gunning down Eugenio Suarez at the plate. That was a huge play, as the next batter, John Murrian, hit a two-run double, one that would've made it 7-5 (instead of 7-4) if not for Flores' throw.

The Yankees had one last scoring opportunity in the ninth but got a taste of their own medicine to keep an eighth run off the board. With one out, Addison Maruszak walked and reached second on a wild pitch, but Moya threw him out at the plate as he tried to score on a Solarte single.

Offensively, the Yankees' seven runs came on just eight hits - four of which came in that big seventh inning - and the solo homers by McCann and Sanchez were the only two hits recorded by the starting lineup. The bench more than picked them up, though, as Solarte's 2-for-2 day raised his spring average to .800, and Zelous Wheeler's eighth-inning double was the only hit that didn't factor into a scoring or attempted scoring play.

That above stat means, though, that it was a tough day for the Yankees' stars outside of McCann's homer; the catcher struck out in his only other plate appearance, Jacoby Ellsbury was 0-for-2 with a walk, Eduardo Nunez was 0-for-3 but reached on an error, and Carlos Beltran went 0-for-2 - including a first-inning double play that also erased Nunez - to remain hitless on the spring.

On the mound, Adam Warren got the start and pitched two scoreless innings, allowing two hits and walking two but greatly helping himself out on two of the three outs in the first; the first out saw Warren pick Rajai Davis off second base after Davis led the game off with a double, and later, after walking both Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez, Warren caught Cabrera trying to sneak an extra base and threw him out at third to end the inning.

After Warren's day ended, Shawn Kelley made his spring debut in the third, and he too was helped by great outfield defense; with Torii Hunter on second after a two-out double, Miguel Cabrera stroked a single to left field, but this time, Zoilo Almonte fired a strike to the plate to cut down Hunter and end the inning.

Mark Montgomery, Danny Burawa, and Fred Lewis held the Tigers scoreless in the middle innings, with Lewis striking out two of the four batters he faced in the sixth, and after Gordon's rocky seventh, Chase Whitley stranded two runners in a scoreless eighth and Preston Claiborne escaped a two-on, no-out jam in the ninth to earn the save.

With the win, the Yankees are now 1-2 in Grapefruit League play and 2-2 overall on the spring as they head into a "super Saturday" in Tampa; CC Sabathia, Hiroki Kuroda, and Masahiro Tanaka all slated to take the mound for Saturday's afternoon tilt with the Phillies at Steinbrenner Field, and you can see full live coverage of that game beginning at 1 p.m. on YES.

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