A minor injury to Sergio Mitre put two of the Killer Bs center stage in this trip to Fort Myers, but while one enjoyed a moral victory, the other took a well-earned loss.
L - Brett Gardner (LF)
S - Ramiro Peña (SS)
L - Curtis Granderson (CF)
S - Nick Swisher (RF)
L - Eric Chavez (1B)
R - Eduardo Nuñez (2B)
R - Ronnie Belliard (3B)
R - Jorge Vazquez (DH)
R - Jesus Montero (C)
Pitchers (IP): Manny Banuelos (2 2/3), Steve Garrison (1 1/3), Dellin Betances (1 1/3), Luis Ayala (1 2/3), Romulo Sanchez (1)
Subs: Jose Gil (1B), Kevin Russo (2B), Doug Bernier (SS), Brandon Laird (3B), Austin Romine (C), Jordan Parraz (RF), Melky Mesa (CF), Justin Maxwell (LF)
Formidable Opponents: The Red Sox's starting nine with Mike Cameron in place of J.D. Drew, three innings of an apparently healthy Alfredo Aceves, and an inning each of Jonathan Papelbon, Bobby Jenks, and Hideki Okajima.
Big Hits: Back-to-back doubles off Aceves in the third by Jesus Montero (1-for-3) and Brett Gardner (1-for-3). The only Yankee to reach base twice was Curtis Granderson, who walked and reached on a bunt single (as much due to Kevin Youkilis's relative inexperience at third base as Granderson's placement of the bunt) in three trips.
Who Pitched Well: Steve Garrison retired all four men he faced with only one batter, Mike Cameron, getting the ball into the outfield. Romulo Sanchez might have pitched a perfect inning if not for Brandon Laird's defense (see "Oopsies" below). Luis Ayala came in with the bases loaded and one out in the sixth and got a double play ball, only to have the pivot botched. He then got another grounder to get out of the inning with just one run having scored. In the seventh, he pitched around his own error and a two-out single for a total of 1 2/3 scoreless frames.
Who Didn't: Dellin Betances was awful. He hit the first batter he saw, walked the second, moved them both up on a cross-up with catcher Jesus Montero, then brought the lead runner home with a wild pitch. In his second inning, he gave up two singles to start, then moved the runners up with another wild pitch and loaded the bases with a one-out walk before getting the hook. Who knows how ugly things would have gotten had the Red Sox not handed him an out with a baserunning mistake in his first frame. Just to go over that again, Betances lasted just 1 1/3 innings and gave up two runs on two hits, two walks, a hit batsman, and two wild pitches, not counting the cross-up with Montero, which was ruled a passed ball. Manny Banuelos threw 2 2/3 scoreless innings against the Red Sox starters, but it wasn't a smooth outing. He walked two in the first, gave up two singles and a walk in the second and needed to get one of his outs at the plate in order to escape it unscathed, and was hooked after retiring the first two batters of the third because he had needed 53 pitches to get to that point, just 53 percent of which were strikes. For a kid who just turned 20 and has barely scratched Double-A, it was impressive, but on it's own, it wasn't a great outing, even if he did strike out Carl Crawford and Kevin Youkilis along the way, the first on a fastball, latter on a 3-2 changeup that concluded his outing. That said, it was a landmark outing for Banuelos and surely galvanized his confidence in his abilities.
Rotation Battle: The big news is in the next category as Sergio Mitre was scratched from this start due to a sore oblique. The Yankees say they were just being careful with him, but it obviously bears watching.
Ouchies: Sergio Mitre was scratched from Monday night's start due to soreness on his left side. Mitre missed 49 days due to a strained left oblique last year, so the Yankees are being careful with this injury, though the soreness he reported on Monday was towards his back, whereas last year's strain was further around front. Mitre is supposed to play catch on Tuesday and the Yankees hope he can pitch on Thursday. Joba Chamberlain also had some soreness in his oblique and will be on a similar schedule to Mitre for the time being. Mark Prior didn't make the trip to Fort Myers due to a minor illness.
Oopsies: The first Boston run scored thanks to a passed ball on a cross-up between Jesus Montero and Dellin Betances, which moved the runners to second and third, and a wild pitch by Betances, which brought the run home. The decisive run scored when Ramiro Peña had the ball squirt out of his hand while turning the pivot on what would have been an inning-ending double play. Luis Ayala booted a comebacker in the seventh. In the eighth, Brandon Laird had one grounder ricochet off his glove for an infield single, then dropped another making the transfer to his throwing hand for an E5.
Other: Righty reliever George Kontos, who was taken by the Padres in the Rule 5 draft, has been returned and assigned to minor league camp. You can see my take on Kontos in this post about December's Rule 5 draft. In reaction to Alfredo Aceves pitching so well against his team so soon after they non-tendered him and let him go to the Red Sox, Brian Cashman said that it was Aceves's back, not his collarbone (which Aceves broke riding his bike this winter) that prompted the Yankees to dismiss him. Quothe Cashman, "He’s got a back condition and we could not get him healthy, and I’ll leave it at that." For his part, Aceves says he feels great.
Next: The first of just two days off in the spring schedule. CC Sabathia and Bartolo Colon will throw simulated games, both getting their pitch counts into the 80s. Typical stuff for Sabathia, but I'm surprised the Yankees don't want Colon to throw all of his pitches against live hitting.