Ivan Nova got off to a rocky start in his second appearance of the spring. So did prospect Manny Banuelos in his first. But the offense was able to make up for all of that (thanks to help from the Astros), coming back from three separate deficits in a 9-6 win over Houston.
After a scoreless top of the first, Nova took the mound in the bottom half. He did not get off to the best of starts. Dexter Fowler and Jose Altuve led off the game with back-to-back singles. They then both came around to score when Jason Castro ripped a double that Zoilo Almonte couldn't handle. Despite allowing another hit to Marc Krauss, Nova got out of the inning thanks to a nice diving catch from Almonte and a stike him out/throw him out double play. After one inning, the Astros led 2-0.
The Yankees' offense would go on to get both of those runs back in the second inning. Dean Anna led off the inning with a single. Scott Sizemore came up next and he reached after Altuve threw a grounder over the first baseman's head. Anna scored on the play to make it 2-1. Two batters later, Mason Williams ripped a double into right field. Sizemore scored to tie the game at two.
The Astros retook the lead in the bottom of the second. L.J. Hoes led off with a single and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Jonathan Villar. (The play was reviewed after it looked like Nunez, who was covering first, might have been off the base. He wasn't, the call was upheld and the whole process didn't take very long.) Cesar Izturis then singled to drive home Hoes, making it 3-2.
Once again, the Yankees would get those runs right back and erase a deficit. Mark Teixiera led off with a double and scored when Kelly Johnson crushed a home run to right. That put the Yankees in front, 4-3.
Nova's day finished after he pitched a scoreless fourth inning. It wasn't a particularly good outing for Nova, who went four innings allowing three runs on eight hits, while striking out five.
Manny Banuelos made his first appearance of the spring (and first in almost two years), and like Nova before him, struggled to get his first out. Altuve led off against Banuelos with a double. After walking Castro, Banuelos allowed a home run to Chris Carter, putting the Astros up 6-4. Banuelos came back to strike out George Springer and get Jesus Guzman to fly out, but that would be all for him. ManBan went just 0.2 innings. Chase Whitley came in for him.
After falling behind for a third time, the Yankees came back for a third time. Anna led off with a single, which was followed by a walk to Sizemore. Almonte then singled, loading the bases with no one one. Williams flied out to left, but it was deep enough to score Anna. Gardner came up next and he dropped a single into center. Sizemore and Almonte were both able to score on the play, thanks to a throwing error by Fowler.
The Yankees added even more runs in the seventh inning. Austin Romine and Yangervis Solarte hit back-to-back one out singles. Zelous Wheeler then hit a ball that dropped in the infield for a single. That single scored Romine and brought Ramon Flores up. Flores grounded to first basemen Telvin Nash, who instead of going to second for a force out and a possible double play, opted to throw home to try and get Solarte at the plate. The Astros' catcher was off the plate and had no play on Solarte, who scored easily. That extened the Yankees' lead to 9-6.
Whitley, Cesar Cabral, David Herndon, Fred Lewis and Chris Leroux combined to get through the last 4.1 innings without much trouble to seal the 9-6 win.
The Yankees will take on the Rays tomorrow at 1:05 eastern. The game can be seen on YES.