It was looking like it could be another long afternoon for the Yankees when they fell behind early, 4-0, as Luis Severino hit a few bumps in his first start of the spring. However, the offense kept chipping away until they struck the big blast — an Oswaldo Cabrera sixth inning grand slam to complete the turnaround. The procession of relievers used after the second put up zero after zero until Michael Gomez blew the save with a four-run ninth to doom the Yankees to an 8-7 loss.
One of the early highlights of the game was Cameron Maybin making his YES Network broadcast debut. Fans will remember him for his magical 82-game cameo with the Yankees in 2019 as part of the unexpected success of that year’s next-man-up movement as well as for his post-HR celebratory hugs in the dugout. He seamlessly established a rapport with his fellow commentators, reparteeing with Michael Kay and David Cone as if he had been calling Yankees games for years. I for one am definitely excited to hear more of him in the booth this season.
The first inning was a tad rough for Severino, but as always in spring training, it’s about the process and not the results. He needed a plate appearance to settle in, walking leadoff man Robbie Grossman on four straight fastballs up and away. He ended up allowing two runs on a pair of hits by Javier Báez and top prospect Spencer Torkelson. He also dotted a 97 mph fastball for his first strikeout of the spring and was able to locate his slider for strikes.
The second inning didn’t bring much a reprieve for Severino, as he allowed a two-run home run to Grossman to deepen the Yankees’ deficit to 4-0. That was the end of his afternoon, though he had a solid foundation to build upon the rest of spring. His fastball topped out at 98.7 mph and induced whiffs at the top of the zone. He paired his changeup well off the heater, getting a handful of off-balance swings. Severino’s final line: two innings, four runs on four hits with one walk and one strikeout.
The Yankees got their first baserunners in the second with Gleyber Torres drawing a one-out walk and Isiah Kiner-Falefa lining a single to center. An errant throw home after an Ender Inciarte fly ball moved the runners up to second and third, but José Peraza’s strikeout left them stranded.
Wandy Peralta and Lucas Luetge turned in clean innings in the third and fourth, with the former needing only six pitches to do so.
The umpires were in full regular season form, with this called strike changeup against Stanton in the fourth the most egregious example.
To Stanton’s credit, he stuck in there and rapped a sharp groundball single off Jeimer Candelario’s glove before subbing out for pinch-runner Ryan LaMarre. Torres followed with a humpback liner single to left-center to put runners on first and second with no outs. After a Kiner-Falefa fielder’s choice, the Yankees scored their first run on a successful double steal with LaMarre coming home. The next batter, Inciarte, pulled a double to right to plate Kiner-Falefa and cut the Yankees’ arrears to 4-2.
New York pushed another run across in the fifth amid a flurry of substitutions that saw all the starters’ days end. Estevan Florial led off with a walk and was replaced there by Oswaldo Cabrera via a fielders choice. Cabrera would eventually come around to score on a Michael Beltre infield single and throwing error by Jack Lopez to make it 4-3.
Ryan Weber tossed a six-pitch 1-2-3 fifth, followed by old friend Manny Bañuelos pitching a 1-2-3 sixth while sporting #68, the old number of fellow ex-Killer-B Dellin Betances.
The Yankees completed the comeback in the sixth in stunning fashion. Blake Perkins started with a one-out single before the Bombers loaded the bases with a pair of two-out walks by Armando Alvarez and Florial.
Cabrera then crushed the first pitch he saw for a wall-scraper grand slam to right:
Feelin' good, feelin' grand.— New York Yankees (@Yankees) March 20, 2022
Oswaldo Cabrera brings 'em home. pic.twitter.com/0sMUa6jjXV
The 105.4 mph laser traveled 352 feet and gave the Yankees their first lead, 7-4.
Cabrera is a second baseman by trade, though he can adequately cover short and third. He is expected to start the season at Triple-A and is considered the closest infield prospect to the majors. He could earn a call-up this season, and that grand slam certainly starts him out on the right foot.
Sean Boyle pitched a scoreless seventh and eighth to set up the Yankees for their first win of the spring. The 25-year-old rookie pitched to a 1.99 ERA across four levels last season and could be one of the relief arms to ride the Scranton Shuttle this year.
Just when it seemed like the Yankees had this one wrapped up, in came Michael Gomez to undo all of their hard work. The 2021 Double-A pitcher surrendered four runs on four hits in the ninth to blow the save and scuttle the comeback as the Bombers would eventually fall, 8-7.
The Yankees welcome the Phillies tomorrow afternoon with YES carrying the broadcast again. Jameson Taillon will make his first start of the spring with first pitch scheduled for 1:05 PM ET, so be sure to join us in the game thread.