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Cervelli homers twice in tie with Tigers

Yankees rally for 7-7 draw against Detroit after rough start from Kuroda
03/12/2014 5:31 PM ET
By Lou DiPietro

Francisco Cervelli launched a pair of homers in a 7-7 tie on Wednesday.(AP)
TAMPA, Fla. - The Yankees fought back out of a big hole to secure their second tie of the spring on Wednesday, but the 7-7, 10-inning deadlock with the Tigers was a day Hiroki Kuroda would like to forget all around.

Kuroda was touched up for six earned runs and 10 hits in 3 2/3 innings, reaching his 60 pitch limit with only 38 strikes. Location seemed to be the big issue, as catcher Francisco Cervelli said that Kuroda looked uncomfortable even in the bullpen and the righty himself said that he felt his breaking pitches especially weren't sharp.

"Mechanically, I was inconsistent and I was rushing a little bit, and the hitters took advantage of me," Kuroda said through his interpreter. "When my stuff is good, I get a lot of ground balls off of that. But today, the precise location wasn't there, so that led to the bad results."

The Tigers jumped on Kuroda early and often, scoring four runs on six hits in the first inning; it could have been more, but center fielder Mason Williams scooped up Bryan Holaday's two-out single and made a great throw - and Francisco Cervelli made a great leaping grab and swipe tag - to cut down Nick Castellanos at the plate to end the inning.

Kuroda settled down for a 1-2-3 second inning, but Detroit would tack on two more in the third, with a Victor Martinez single and back-to-back doubles by Tyler Collins and Trevor Crowe making it 6-0. Once again, it could have been more, but Cervelli made another nice defensive play, easily cutting down Crowe trying to steal third for the second out of the inning.

By the time Kelly Johnson misplayed Don Kelly's grounder with two outs in the fourth - Johnson's second error of the day - the damage was already done, and Kuroda's day was over, but he said it was a good learning experience.

"At this phase of spring training, it's not easy to be 100 percent every time - but when the season comes there will be days like this, so I have to make sure I'm on top of things," he said. "I need to make adjustments; I think my velocity is good, it's just a matter of small changes mechanically."

Offensively, it was Francisco Cervelli and not much else for the Yankees in the first seven innings; Cervelli hit a pair of solo homers, one in the third and one in the fifth, to put the Yankees on the board, and admitted afterwards that was the first time he had ever gone deep twice in a game.

Beyond that, back-to-back two-out singles in the fourth by Alfonso Soriano and Johnson and Austin Romine's one-out knock in the seventh were all the Yankees got until the end, when they rallied for five runs in the eighth and ninth innings.

Three straight one-out singles in the eighth loaded the bases for John Ryan Murphy, who drove in the first run of the inning with a groundout, and after Jose Pirela walked to re-load the bases, Zelous Wheeler hit a ground-rule double to left that made it 6-5.

Detroit added their final run in the ninth, but after Jose Gil opened the bottom of the inning with a double, Zoilo Almonte made it a 7-7 game with a prodigious two-run homer to right; like in Sunday's tie, however, the tenth inning came and went quietly, with Yoshinori Tateyama working around a leadoff double in the top of the frame and a leadoff hit in the bottom leading to a double play and a game-ending groundout from Romine.

Offensively, the Yankees, who had just four hits after six innings, ended with 13, with Cervelli's big two-homer day the top line. Almonte was also 2-for-2, Yangervis Solarte walked and singled to raise his spring average to .632, and Pirela also had a hit and a walk.

On the mound, Chase Whitley got the final out of the fourth and Shawn Kelley pitched a perfect fifth before Jose Campos, who made his spring debut today, worked around a leadoff double to pitch a scoreless sixth. Fred Lewis allowed one hit in the seventh, Danny Burawa pitched a perfect eighth, and it was Robert Coello who allowed the final Detroit run in the ninth ahead of Tateyama in the tenth.

The tie moves the Yankees' records to 7-5-2 in the Grapefruit League and 8-5-2 overall. They'll have two chances to add to that total Thursday, with a split-squad taking on both the Phillies in Clearwater and the Orioles here in Tampa. Joe Girardi's home boys will have Michael Pineda on the mound in a game that can be seen live on YES at 1 p.m., while Ivan Nova will start for Tony Pena's road crew in the 1:05 p.m. start across the bay.

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