Ellsbury homers in Yankees' loss to PhilliesNova strikes out six but gives up three runs in rough third inning
Nova was good to great in four of his five innings pitched Thursday, but a disastrous third inning left the Yankees in a 3-0 hole and the righty wondering what went wrong; six of the nine hits Nova allowed in the game came in that one frame, with four straight singles and then a double play ball plating three runs in the blink of an eye.
It could have been worse, but Francisco Cervelli's second defensive gem in two days kept the damage in check. With two outs and Dominic Brown on first, Darin Ruf smacked a double to left field, but Ramon Flores came up throwing - and Cervelli made a nice grab going to his left and applied a tag to cut down Brown at the plate to end the inning.
That was more than enough for Phillies starter Roberto Hernandez, who retired the first 15 Yankees batters he faced before Scott Sizemore singled to lead off the sixth. He left to a nice ovation after that hit, but reliever Jeremy Horst picked up right where he left off, getting Flores to pop out and Austin Romine to ground into a 6-4-3 double play to end the inning.
The Yankees would mount a rally in the seventh, starting with Jacoby Ellsbury's leadoff homer to make it 3-1, but a play that could be disputed at the umpire's discretion in the regular season perhaps prevented them from a big inning.
Mark Teixeira walked with one out and Kelly Johnson followed with a double to left field, but pinch-runner Francisco Arcia was thrown out trying to score on a play where Phillies catcher Carlos Ruiz appeared to be blocking the plate before the ball came in; Arcia ended up sliding right into Ruiz, who applied the tag on shortstop Freddy Galvis' relay throw to make Arcia the second out of the inning.
Cervelli singled home Johnson right after to make it 3-2, but that would be all in the inning and on the day; Ken Giles struck out Yangervis Solarte to end the seventh, and he then sent the Yankees down 1-2-3 in the eighth before Brad Lincoln retired the side in order in the ninth.
So, offensively, it was two runs on four hits for the Yankees, three of which came in that seventh inning. Teixeira's walk was the only base on balls the Yankees drew.
Behind Nova, Shane Greene and Bryan Mitchell both stuck out two in one scoreless inning apiece, but Preston Claiborne allowed three runs on four straight hits in the eighth before Mark Montgomery came on to get the final out.
With the loss, the Yankees drop to 7-6-2 in the Grapefruit League and 8-6-2 on the spring overall. Part of the team heads to Panama tonight for this weekend's Legends Series, but the crew that's staying in Tampa will try to bounce back against the Twins on Friday afternoon. David Phelps will start that game at Steinbrenner Field, and full coverage begins on YES at 1 p.m.