Pineda sharp, but Yankees fall to Blue Jays

Big righty helps cause to be Yankees' fifth starter despite loss
03/23/2014 5:41 PM ET
By Lou DiPietro

Michael Pineda was sharp again Sunday, allowing just three runs in six innings against the Toronto Blue Jays.(AP)
Michael Pineda pitched six strong innings Sunday, but Mark Buehrle kept the Yankees at bay as the Blue Jays took a 3-1 decision at Steinbrenner Field.

Pineda, making perhaps his final start of the spring, finished with a quality start, allowing three runs (two earned) on six hits in his six innings and striking out two. Buehrle, however, was on his game as well, holding the Yankees to one run on seven hits over 6 1/3 innings before a strong finish by the Jays bullpen.

Toronto got on the board in the second, getting a rally started when Eduardo Nunez's throwing error at third base allowed Edwin Encarnacion to reach; Adam Lind followed with a single, and Dioner Navarro then hit an RBI single to make it 1-0. Pineda later hit Brett Lawrie with a pitch to load the bases with one out, but Mark Teixeira started a nice 3-6-1 double play on a Ryan Goins grounder to get him out of the jam.

Toronto would add two more in the fifth, all off Pineda miscues. First, after back-to-back singles by Colby Rasmus and Brett Lawrie to open the inning, Pineda fielded Goins' sacrifice bunt attempt and threw the ball away, allowing Rasmus to score and Lawrie to move to third. Brian McCann caught Goins trying to steal and Pineda got a ground out for the second out, but the righty then uncorked a wild pitch to score Lawrie and make it 3-0.

The Yankees would get one back in the sixth, although there would be no RBI. Ichiro opened the inning with a ground-rule double and Brett Gardner followed with a single, with Derek Jeter grounding into a 6-4-3 double play that scored Ichiro to make it 3-1. Carlos Beltran then doubled off Buehrle, but he escaped further trouble by getting Teixeira to ground out to end the inning.

In the seventh, both bullpens kept it 3-1 with some fine work. In the top of the frame, Dellin Betances bailing an ineffective Cesar Cabral - who let all three batters he faced reached - of a bases-loaded, one-out jam, and in the bottom of the inning, Toronto's Sergio Santos allowed Antoan Richardson to reach third with two outs but retired Eduardo Nunez to keep Richardson stranded.

The Yankees had one last gasp in the ninth, getting runners on the corners with two outs, but Aaron Loup struck out Yangervis Solarte looking to end the game.

Offensively, the Yankees had eight hits. Gardner and Carlos Beltran both went 2-for-3 to lead the way, the other four hits came courtesy of McCann, Ichiro, Richardson, and Alfonso Soriano, and Wheeler drew the only walk allowed by Jays pitching.

On the mound, the Yankees bullpen was mostly strong behind Pineda; Cabral allowed a hit and a two walks without retiring a batter, but Chris Leroux (1/3 IP), Betances (2/3 IP, 1 K), Danny Burawa (1 perfect IP) and Jim Miller (1 IP, 1 H) shut the door on the Jays.

With the loss, the Yankees fall to 15-10-2 in the Grapefruit League and 16-10-2 on the spring overall. Monday is an off day for the club, but Ivan Nova will pitch in a minor-league game in what could be his final tune-up of the spring; come Tuesday, the Yankees will be back in action with a 7:05 p.m. start against the Phillies at Steinbrenner Field, with David Phelps the likely starter in that game.

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