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J.A. Happ struggles, but Yankees pull out a win and a tie versus Pirates and Tigers

The Yankees emerged from an afternoon of split-squad action with a win and a draw.

MLB: Spring Training-Pittsburgh Pirates at New York Yankees Butch Dill-USA TODAY Sports

The Yankees played two today, and they rallied to win one and tie one. In Tampa, they faced off with the Pirates and won 6-5 thanks to a game-winning two-run homer in the eighth inning by outfielder Zack Zehner. They also sent a squad to face the Tigers in Lakeland, where they played to a draw after the score sat at 2-2 through nine innings.

You can check out the box scores for both games here. Now, onto three takeaways from today’s games:

  1. J.A. Happ is still getting his legs under him. The 36-year-old lefty’s spring ERA sits at 7.56 in 8.1 innings. He allowed three runs in four innings today, yielding a pair of home runs in the third inning. I have no video of the homers, but MLB Gameday indicated that both came on pitches left directly in the middle of the zone. Happ isn’t sharp right now, but that shouldn’t be a huge concern. It’s still only early-March, and the veteran has plenty of time to get on track before the games become meaningful.
  2. Following along with the game on, I saw a string of events that seemed scarcely believable. In the bottom of the fourth, Francisco Liriano relieved Pirates starter Chris Archer. Aaron Judge, leading off the inning, walked on four pitches. Next, Giancarlo Stanton walked, this time, on four pitches. Then, Greg Bird walked, on four pitches. Finally, Gleyber Torres walked to force in a run... on four pitches. Without being able to watch the game, I have no way to tell what happened to Liriano, and what the Yankees hitters were doing there at the plate as they waited to see whether the pitcher could find the strike zone. After walking four straight batters on four pitches to start an inning, Liriano was removed with a perfect 16-balls-in-16-pitches line.
  3. In the matchup with the Tigers, Danny Farquhar made another appearance, and his tough spring continued. Farquhar recorded two outs but gave up a run on one hit and three walks. The outing actually lowered his spring ERA to 27.00. Farquhar’s incredible comeback story unfortunately looks like it won’t result in a spot on the major-league roster, but with any luck, he will continue to persevere and work past this rough initial return to big-league work.

Highlight of the Game

*insert grumbling about wishing at least one of the Yankees games today was televised*

We’ve got a scheduled off-day tomorrow, so savor this taste of baseball double-dipping. The exhibition slate resumes on Tuesday, when the Yankees take on the Orioles.