Mood Music - Peace Frog by The Doors
The New York Yankees lost another spring training game in the late innings, this time falling to the Tampa Bay Rays 3-1. A non-existent offense (shut down by Jeremy Hellickson and a cavalcade of Rays relievers) was supported in the early innings with the dominance of Bartolo Colon.
Colon yielded only one run in six innings (a solo home run off the bat of Kelly Shoppach), two hits, zero walks, and five strikeouts. At one point, he set down 15 straight Rays batters and looked truly dominant.
Coming into Spring Training, I had Bartolo Colon as an extreme long-shot to start the season in the starting rotation (somewhere between Sergio Mitre and Old Hoss Radbourn). To make the rotation, Colon was going to have to pitch his (ample) backside off, along with some faltering from the other contestants.
The pre-camp favorite to land a rotation spot was almost certainly Freddy Garcia. This spring, every step forward by Colon has been accompanied with a step back by Garcia. I still think that Garcia is the more durable and reliable option, and is more likely to stick in the rotation for the entire season, but Colon has out-pitched him in every way imaginable. The eventual decision will give good insight into how much stock the organization puts into Spring Training performances.
The Rays were able to break through in the final two frames against Manny Banuelos, who was spotty with his command and struggled through two innings. Man-Ban gave up a home run to Dan Johnson in the 7th inning, and then a dink and dunk run in the 8th inning on an infield hit, sacrifice bunt, and a bloop single. While he was again able to escape without giving up much on the scoreboard, he continually pitched from behind in the count and seemed to really labor.
The only Yankee run came as a result of Gritty Gutty Brett Gardner walking, stealing second, and being plated with productive outs by Jorge Posada and Alex Rodriguez.