Yankees 6, Astros 5

Daniel Brewer failed to catch this ball, which went for a two-RBI double in the seventh inning of a poorly played game between the Yankees and Astros. (AP)

The Yankees and Astros subs took turns giving each other runs in a game that included five errors, 11 walks, a couple of baserunning outs, and a key wild pitch. Only four of the above 11 runs were earned, including just one of the Astros and just two of the five the Yankees scored in the ninth to rally for the win. The final play was a four-pitch, bases-loaded walk to Russell Martin from Lance Pendleton, who was taken from the Yankees in the Rule 5 draft. Those were the only four pitches Pendelton threw in the game.

Lineup:

R - Derek Jeter (SS)
L - Robinson Cano (2B)
S - Mark Teixeira (1B)
R - Alex Rodriguez (3B)
S - Jorge Posada (DH)
R - Andruw Jones (LF)
R - Francisco Cervelli (C)
L - Colin Curtis (RF)
R - Justin Maxwell (CF)

Pitchers: A.J. Burnett, Sergio Mitre, Joba Chamberlain, Boone Logan, David Phelps, Hector Noesi

Subs: Bradley Suttle (1B), Kevin Russo (2B), Eduardo Nunez (SS), Brandon Laird (3B), Austin Romine (C), Jordan Parraz (RF), Melky Mesa (CF), Daniel Brewer (LF), Russell Martin (DH)

Formidable Opponents: An Astros road split-squad and Bud Norris? Not so much. Michael Bourn, Bill Hall, and Brett Wallace were probably the best hitters in the Astros' starting lineup.

Big Hits: Alex Rodriguez (1-for-2) crushed a double over the left fielder's head in the second and came around to score the first Yankee run on a pair of outs. He tagged the ball in his second at-bat, too, but the wind held it up. Mark Teixeira (1-for-2) hustled out a bloop double that dropped in front of the center fielder's dive. Austin Romine had two walks and a single in three trips. With runners on second and third and none out and the Yankees trailing 5-3, Melky Mesa (who walked in his other plate appearance) tied the game on a hard single back through the box, but was subsequently thrown out trying to steals second.

Who Pitched Well: Sergio Mitre again only pitched on inning, but again looked sharp, working around an infield single, striking out one (Matt Downs on a slow curve) and sitting 93 on the gun. A.J. Burnett gave up a pair of hits in the second, but killed the rally with a double-play ball and didn't allow another ball into the outfield getting four groundball outs (plus an extra on the DP) and striking out Clint Barmes looking on an inside curveball at the knee that Burnett later called a "rubbish" pitch. Hector Noesi allowed just a single in two innings of work, got two groundball outs and wrapped up with a pair of strikeouts, getting Jiovanni Mier on a 91 mile per hour fastball and Brian Bogusevic on a diving curve ball with a nice big break.

Who Didn't: David Phelps looked sharp in his first inning of work, striking out Bill Hall by painting the outside corner with a 92 mile per hour fastball and Brett Wallace on three pitches, the last a disappearing curve. His second inning opened with a trio of Yankee errors (see "Oopsies" below) and J.B. Shuck's second bunt single in as many trips, but with two out and just one run in, Phelps walked Barmes and gave up a two-run double to Bogusevic, and an RBI single to Jon Gaston. Now, this early in spring training, it's entirely possible that he was feeling fatigue against the eighth, ninth, and tenth batters he had faced, but that's not terribly impressive either, and part of a pitcher's job is picking up his defense, which Phelps failed to do. None of the runs Phelps allowed were earned, but I'd argue those last three should have been. Boone Logan gave up a double and two singles to the first three men he faced. None of them were hit especially hard (the first single was Shuck's first bunt, and the second was a groundball through the shortstop hole), and he retired the next three men, only allowing one run, striking out Barmes on a nice sweeping slider, but his velocity was inconsistent and mostly in the high-80s again, and really, giving up anything to that lineup merits inclusion here.

Rotation Battle: David Phelps might get a pass because of the errors made behind him, but he didn't help his cause and might be headed for an early cut unless he can bounce back in his next outing. Hector Noesi, meanwhile, has impressed twice now, and Sergio Mitre has pitched well enough in two one-inning outings and will get the start on Monday.

Outchies: Francisco Cervelli fouled a ball off his left foot in the second, requiring a brief visit from the trainer, and came out after catching the top of the third. An MRI was inconclusive and the doctors have asked for more time review it, fearing a hairline fracture. The ball hit the side of his foot, right on the bone at the base of his big toe. At the very least, he will be inactive for two days. Greg Golson, who took an A.J. Burnett pitch to the head on Saturday, is expected to play today.

Oopsies: Justin Maxwell was thrown out trying to go first-to-third on a Derek Jeter single to center with no outs in the fifth. Jordan Parraz dropped an out to start the seventh and two batters later, Brendan Laird threw a bunt away, allowing the lead runner to go from first to third (the batter would have been safe either way as, indeed, J.B. Shuck was credited with his second bunt hit in as many at-bats). The lead runner scored on an ensuing sac fly, and the throw home from Melky Mesa sailed over the cut-off men, then clanked off Austin Romine's glove, allowing Shuck to go to second. On first base as the winning run with no outs in the ninth, Mesa was thrown out trying to steal second (though the Astros did guess right by pitching out).

Next: Freddy Garcia makes his Yankee debut this spring as the Yankees face the Rays in Port Charlotte. Ivan Nova will follow him on the mound.

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