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Yankees 6, Pirates 5: Yanks survive middle-inning barrage

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Giancarlo Stanton and Gleyber Torres went back-to-back, but a grand slam off Justin Wilson made things interesting.

MLB: New York Yankees-Workouts Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Oh man, a televised Yankees game that also went nine innings?! It makes you feel positively spoiled. Joking aside, the Bombers put on a power display, but a middle-inning rally by the Bucs meant the Yankees had to win it all over again in the eighth, 6-5.

Domingo Germán worked a seamless first inning, retiring the side on 10 pitches, including a strikeout of Dustin Fowler. In the bottom half, the Yankees wasted no time in opening the scoring. After a leadoff single from DJ LeMahieu and a bullet liner from Aaron Judge, Brett Gardner lifted a sac fly to left-center field, plating LeMahieu to make it 1-0.

Germán pitched an economical two additional innings, collecting two more strikeouts while surrendering a lone hit on a Colin Moran line-drive single. His best pitch of the night was a filthy curveball that sat down Michael Pérez for the K. It was an encouraging outing from the righty, as he collected 7 whiffs out of 31 pitches thrown, and commanded the four-seamer, curveball, and changeup effectively.

The Yankees’ bats really blew the game open in the bottom of the third. Judge collected his second hit of the game — a sharp ground ball single through the left side. Gardner moved him to third with a lined single to right-center. Giancarlo Stanton stepped up and absolutely unloaded on an elevated changeup, sending a 115 mph missile that soared 420 feet down the right field line.

Not to be outdone, Gleyber Torres jumped on a first pitch, middle-middle fastball to go back-to-back with Stanton. Torres’ blast exited at 107 mph and clanged off the right field scoreboard 429 feet away. By the time the dust settled, Pirates starter Tyler Anderson was knocked out of the inning having given up a 5-0 lead.

The Yankees went to the ‘pen in the fourth, and the first two relievers they brought in both threw perfect frames. Aroldis Chapman made his first appearance of the spring, and the early returns were promising, as he punched out two batters. His fastball sat between 97 and 99 mph, he commanded the slider to both sides of the plate, and even mixed in a filthy splitter.

Darren O’Day is quite a different look to face directly following the flame-throwing Chapman, as his fastest four-seamer was clocked at 86 mph. Nonetheless, he was equally effective, and wrapped up his spring debut with a sword-collecting slider to ring up Tony Wolters.

Justin Wilson looked to continue this streak of Yankees relievers making successful spring debuts. Unfortunately, things did not go as planned for the newly-acquired lefty. He first surrendered a solo shot to Jared Oliva to make it 5-1. After loading the bases, Wilson gave up a game-tying grand slam to Brian Goodwin, a wall-scraper to right field. Just as quickly as they jumped out ahead, the Yankees found themselves on level ground, 5-5.

Chad Green looked utterly unhittable in the seventh, striking out the side with a combination hammer curveball and the prototypical Chad Green high cheese. With Zack Britton unavailable for the first few months, the Yankees will need a reliable high-leverage arm to cover the setup role. Green certainly made a strong opening case tonight.

Michael King turned in maybe the most impressive pitching performance of the night for the Yankees. He struck out two in two innings of work, and his fastball frequently touched 97 mph. King has added easily five miles per hour since his days with the Marlins, so perhaps the Gas Station is returning early results. The question was always if he could develop as a starter, given his struggles facing the order more than once.

The Yankees bats largely went quiet after the starters were substituted from the game. The score stayed knotted at five apiece until Pirates reliever Blake Cederlind came unraveled in the eighth. After a single, a hit-by-pitch, and a walk loaded the bases, infield prospect Ezequiel Duran drew a walk, pushing Mike Ford across to make it 6-5. A short while later, King closed out the victory.

There are a lot of positives to take away from tonight’s performance. Germán looked sharp, the lineup still mashes, and Chapman, O’Day, and Green all turned in clean spring debuts with crisp looking raw stuff. Backup catcher candidate Robinson Chirinos did have to leave the game in the eighth after getting drilled in the hand, so the Yankees will have to wait and see if it’s serious or not.

Join us tomorrow afternoon as the Yankees travel to Clearwater to face the Phillies. Gerrit Cole is scheduled to start after throwing a 50-pitch live bullpen last week. First pitch is scheduled for 1:05 p.m. ET, and although there is no scheduled TV or radio broadcast for the New York market, you can stream the game at MLB.tv.

Box Score