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Yankees 1, Phillies 4: Bombers flirt with no-hitter but collapse in ninth

The Yankees’ pitching dominated for most of the night, but they couldn’t see things through to the finish.

MLB: Philadelphia Phillies at New York Yankees Jonathan Dyer-USA TODAY Sports

Combined no-hitters in the regular season generally feel underwhelming, the impressiveness of the feat diminished by the lack of a singular hero. A spring training combined no-hitter? That surely would rank near the bottom of the list of notable baseball achievements.

The Yankees had such an uninspired achievement within their grasp, flirting with exhibition immortality by carrying a combined no-hitter into the eighth. Alas, just as the finish line had come into view, old friend Ronald Torreyes managed a single to at last put a tally in the hit column. The Bombers couldn’t halt things there, and ultimately fell 4-1 to the Phillies thanks to a ninth-inning implosion.

Deivi García got things started, but you wouldn’t have expected a no-hit bid to emerge based on how he came out of the blocks. He struggled with control in the first inning, missing the strike zone with 12 of his first 22 pitches, walking the bases loaded with one out in the process. He managed to escape unscathed, striking out Andrew Knapp to strand all three runners.

The righty settled in from there, ultimately retiring eight in a row to close out his night. He finished with three scoreless innings, though the early free passes marred García’s overall line, as he totaled four walks against two strikeouts.

This was one of García’s shakier starts, though he still flashed some solid stuff, touching 95.4 mph on the radar gun at the higher end. In aggregate, his control struggles give Domingo Germán an opening to seize control in the race for the fifth starter slot. Though both pitchers figure to factor heavily into the team’s plans regardless, Germán has looked sharp every time out this spring. Should he excel again in his next start, he’ll likely have pulled ahead of García, if only for an initial spot in the rotation.

Aroldis Chapman followed García and submitted another easy appearance, retiring all three batters he faced. Darren O’Day came on for a scoreless fifth, Justin Wilson handled the sixth, and Chad Green, a shutout seventh. This stretch served as an excellent advertisement for what New York’s bullpen should look like at its finest. Chapman won’t enter games in the fourth come April, but the Yankees can count on any number of meaningful games this year featuring four-plus shutout innings from the back end of their relief corps.

It all started to fall apart once Boone strayed from the parade of elite late-inning arms, however. Luis Garcia surrendered Torreyes’ single in the eighth but otherwise navigated the eighth. Kyle Barraclough attempted to close out a 1-0 game in the ninth, but walked the bases loaded and pushed across a run with a wild pitch. Reggie McClain came on to staunch the bleeding, but an error and a double delivered Philadelphia a 4-1 lead.

The Yankees couldn’t rally in the ninth. Their only run came back in the fourth, when Aaron Hicks followed up Aaron Judge’s leadoff walk with a double. Luke Voit drove home a run with a sac fly, an RBI that looked like it might stand up all night. It wasn’t enough, and for as good as the Yankees’ top pitchers looked, their top hitters scuffled. Only Hicks and Voit managed a hit, a double apiece.

Should the Yankees drop a regular season game thanks to a ninth-inning relief implosion after nearly throwing a combined no-hitter, it would leave a particularly sour taste. Thankfully, in March, the result only means so much. The team will continue tuning up tomorrow as they travel to face the Orioles. The game is set for a 6:05 EST start, though that one unfortunately will also not feature a radio or TV broadcast.

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