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Yankees 4, Nationals 2: Walk-off Wednesday

The starting lineup may have been a strong one, but the Yankees’ winning hit came from a prospect still deep in the minors.

MLB: FEB 26 Spring Training - Yankees at Blue Jays Photo by Cliff Welch/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Spring training can provide some of the odder baseball of the year. Typically, any big names playing a Grapefruit/Cactus League game will do so in the open couple innings before exiting. Therefore, if a game ends up close, the deciding moments usually end up coming from prospects — sometimes, ones you may not know.

That’s what happened on Wednesday’s game in Tampa. After many expected Yankees regulars had semi-quiet games, it was catcher Carlos Narvaez — yet to play a game over A-ball — who came up with the winning homer as the Yankees picked up a 4-2 walk-off victory over the Nationals.

The Yankees ran out a strong lineup, one which could theoretically be seen in a game this season. It included the 2023 spring training debuts of DJ LeMahieu, Anthony Rizzo, and Giancarlo Stanton. In Stanton’s first at-bat, he made good contact on a ball, only it hit off Nationals pitcher Cory Abbott, who recovered to make the play. The first of that trio to get on base was LeMahieu, who recorded a loud and long single off the wall in left field.

Domingo Germán got the start on the mound for the Yankees, as he battles to fill the Frankie Montas vacancy for the fifth starter spot. He ended up going 2.1 innings, allowing one run on one hit, while striking out three. He was good, but wasn’t quite as visually dominant as Clarke Schmidt was on Sunday. Obviously, there’s still a lot of time left in the spring though.

The Nationals scored that lone run in the third inning. The only runner to reach base against Germán came to start that inning when Derek Hill reached on what was called an infield single. Josh Donaldson fielded Hill’s grounder, but his throw to Anthony Rizzo at first was slightly off; however, no error was charged. Hill was safe, though he had to leave with a leg injury. Greg Weissert, who potentially has a role to play in the big league bullpen at some point, then replaced Germán and allowed a single to CJ Abrams, moving the pinch-runner James Wood to third. Weissert then got Alex Call to hit into a potential inning-ending double play, but Call beat out the throw at first, which allowed Wood to score.

Jonathan Loáisiga replaced Weissert as he prepares for both the season and for playing for Nicaragua in the World Baseball Classic. He allowed one single in a scoreless inning, but worked around it by inducing a double play.

In the bottom of the fourth, the Yankees got on the board themselves. Rizzo recorded his first hit of the spring when he led off the inning with a single. He was erased on the basepaths on a force out at second when Donaldson just beat out a double play at first. Donaldson reaching safely was big, as Harrison Bader then laced a ball to deep right-center field. Donaldson scored while Bader raced all the way around for a triple, tying the game. The hit also came on the back of this defensive play that Bader had made earlier in the game.

A wild pitch in the next at-bat allowed Bader to come home and score, putting the Yankees in front. The backups soon started to come in after that, but not before Aaron Hicks recorded a single.

The Nationals got a run back against Yoendrys Gómez, but it came on a bizarre double play turned by the Yankees, as two Nats ran into outs on a rundown play. It included a smart decision by top prospect Anthony Volpe to throw ahead of a runner trying to advance to third, instead of automatically going to first.

After Gómez went three innings, Ryan Weber threw two perfect innings to wrap things up for Yankees pitching. The game seem destined to end in a tie when the first two hitters in the bottom of the ninth went down in order.

That then brought Jasson Domínguez to the plate. For all the hype surrounding him, it would’ve been a fun little moment for him to hit a walk-off homer. Alas, that did not happen. He did do a good thing, though. Domínguez drew a walk, bringing Narvaez to the batters box. On the fourth pitch of the at-bat, Narvaez hit one that just barely cleared the top of the wall in right field, giving the Yankees a walk-off win.

Tomorrow’s action will be televised, although not by YES, as the Yankees will travel to Bradenton to play the Pirates. First pitch will be at 1:05pm ET with typical reliever Albert Abreu getting the start against Pittsburgh’s Mitch Keller.

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