Freddy Garcia had another rough outing as the Yankees and Jays played to a ten-inning tie . . . or did he?
R - Derek Jeter (SS)
R - Eduardo Nuñez (LF)
S - Mark Teixeira (1B)
R - Alex Rodriguez (3B)
L - Robinson Cano (2B)
S - Jorge Posada (DH)
R - Andruw Jones (RF)
R - Austin Romine (C)
R - Melky Mesa (CF)
Pitchers (IP): Freddy Garcia (6), Mariano Rivera (1), Mark Prior (1), Luis Ayala (1), Ryan Pope (2/3), Steve Garrison (1/3)
Subs: Jorge Vazquez (1B), Kevin Russo (2B-LF), Doug Bernier (SS), Ronnie Belliard (3B-2B), Eric Chavez (3B), Jesus Montero (C), Jordan Parraz (RF), Justin Maxwell (CF), Ramiro Peña (LF-SS), Gustavo Molina (DH)
Formidable Opponents: Three of the Jays lesser regulars and 4 1/3 innings of Brett Cecil.
Big Hits: A two-out, two-run homer by Robinson Cano (2-for-4) off Cecil in the first. Alex Rodriguez (1-for-2, 2 BB) doubled home Derek Jeter in advance of Cano's homer. Mark Teixeira (1-for-4) doubled and scored in the fifth. Derek Jeter went 3-for-4 with a sixth inning double off Carlos Villanueva. Jorge Posada singled twice and was hit by a pitch in four trips.
Who Pitched Well: Mariano Rivera, of course. He worked a perfect seventh, striking out two, both looking. Mark Prior worked around a two out single by Eric Thames in the eighth, striking out two. Steve Garrision retired the only man he faced (also Thames). Luis Ayala worked around a two-out double by former Orioles lefty turned outfielder Adam Loewen for a scoreless ninth. Freddy Garcia. Yes Garcia gave up five runs in six innings, but he retired the first nine men he faced with just one fair ball reaching the outfield, worked a 1-2-3 fifith inning, struck out four in a row between the fourth and fifth innings, and was victimized by an Eduardo Nuñez misplay on a would-be fly out to left field that turned into a double in the fifth. Garcia retired the next two batters after that misplay but then gave up a monster two-run home run to Double-A first baseman David Cooper before getting what was effectively his fourth out of the inning. That boils the bad part of his afternoon down to the Cooper at-bat, which came a the tail end of his pitch count, and a four-batter sequence in the fourth inning in which he gave up a leadoff double to Rajai Davis, got two ground balls, one of which found a hole for a single, uncorked a wild pitch, and then gave up a well-struck single to infield prospect Brett Lawrie. In total, Garcia got ten outs on the ground against just three in the air and six by strikeout (against no walks) and was one batter away from a quality start with two outs in the sixth. I'd say he pitched well.
Rotation Battle: It depends on whether or not the team is as forgiving of Freddy Garcia's rough patches as I was above, but the fact remains that Garcia has shown weakness where the others, particularly Ivan Nova and Bartolo Colon haven't. That will make this decision even harder, as Garcia's overall performance in 2010 likely made him the leader coming into camp, and while he's been roughed up in two straight starts, he was only really bad in the one previous to this. Looking at the schedule, Garcia's next turn falls on an off-day, which could find him pitching a simulated game or one in minor league camp, which won't help much, and his last turn would fall on the final game of the exhibition schedule. So, don't expect the Yankees to announce the final rotation spot until camp is over.
Ouchies: Boone Logan said his back spasms on Friday were no big deal and that he expects to pitch in Sunday's game. Joba Chamberlain (oblique) and Pedro Feliciano (upper arm soreness) threw bullpens on Saturday. Chamberlain threw at close to full speed and says he's ready to get back into a game. Feliciano threw around 80 percent and will need another session before he's ready to see game action. Brett Gardner (calf) said he could have played on Saturday, but the regular outfielders were scheduled to get the day off. He should be in the lineup on Sunday. A.J. Burnett was hit by a comebacker in Friday's game and had a big welt on his back on Saturday, but it shouldn't effect his schedule.
Oopsies: Eduardo Nuñez made a nice running catch in left, but then let a would-be fly-out get over his head for a double in the sixth. Freddy Garcia threw a wild pitch in the middle of the Blue Jays' rally in the fourth. Melky Mesa was caught stealing second with one out and Derek Jeter at the plate in the sixth. Jeter doubled in that at-bat, making it two games in a row that Mesa was thrown out on the bases representing what might have been a decisive run.
Other: Dellin Betances was optioned to Double-A in a move Brian Cashman told us was coming before camp began. Manny Bañuelos will pitch in Monday's game. Joe Girardi announced the order of the top three in his rotation: CC Sabathia, A.J. Burnett, and Phil Hughes. I have a hard time seeing that as anything other than an attempt to maintain the confidence Burnett has been working to build this spring and also have a hard time finding any reason why that should be problematic.
Next: CC Sabathia starts against the Phillies in Clearwater, while Ivan Nova pitches a simulated game back in Tampa. MLB Network will air the actual game at 5pm, though it's likely to be blacked out locally. Which, of course, is infuriating. I cannot grasp the logic of blacking out a game in New York when the game is being played in Florida and no other New York station is showing the game. Doing so to a game on tape delay is . . . well it's no less logical because you can't get any less logical than completely illogical.