The Yankees looked ready to rumble from the start today, but their minor league relief pitchers couldn’t quite hold things together as they fell to the Orioles. The regulars who made the trip to Sarasota did an excellent job in the lineup, and the position battles that the Yankees face become more and more interesting by the day.
This half of the Yankees came ready to hit out of the gates, and did just that. The Bombers jumped on Kyle Gibson in the first inning, hours after he was dubbed the Orioles’ Opening Day starter. DJ LeMahieu started things with a single, and Oswald Peraza followed with the same. Then, Oswaldo Cabrera launched his fourth homer of the spring. It was an impressive blast, too, as he muscled it the other way off Gibson, and is adding some final evidence for his case to be a consistent part of this lineup.
Oswaldo Cabrera - New York Yankees (4)* pic.twitter.com/MlWBLEqLkH— MLB HR Videos (@MLBHRVideos) March 24, 2023
Kyle Higashioka followed the homer with a double, and a Billy McKinney walk later in the inning would chase the veteran Gibson out of the game before the end of the first (though he would return for the second and finish with 4.2 innings).
Yoendrys Gómez set the O’s down in order in their half of the first to maintain the 3-0 lead for the Yankees. The bats weren’t done yet either, as Higashioka plated three more with a second three-run bomb in as many innings for the Yankees. It scored Peraza and Jake Bauers, and put New York up early on, 6-0. Higgy would finish 2-for-3 with a pair of extra-base hits and three RBIs.
The Orioles would not go without a say, however, as they were able to chip away at the lead in their half of the third inning. The birds plated a pair on a couple of RBI singles from WBC star Anthony Santander and top prospect Gunnar Henderson.
The pitching for both squads would settle down, as the 6-2 score would hold until the eighth inning. The Yankees didn’t have their A-list pitchers available for this portion of the split-squad day, but the ones they had did their job early on. After Gómez went 3.2 innings giving up those two runs, Jack Neely, Ian Hamilton, and D.J. Snelten would combine to keep the O’s scoreless through the seventh. Snelten, however, faltered in the penultimate frame, as he loaded the bases on a single and a pair of walks, eventually allowing two more runs on the back of a Kyle Stowers double. The Orioles would get another two runs before the long inning ended, to knot things up at six.
The Yankees couldn’t scratch anything across in the ninth despite having two hitters reach base. In their turn, the Orioles worked two walks to start the frame, and Justin Wilson (not that one) then gave up a booming double to Josh Lester, giving Baltimore the walk-off 7-6 victory.
Around this limited lineup there are two things that stand out, the first of which is the continuing impressive spring from Cabrera. The switch-hitter is up to four homers, and is making it very difficult for him not to get first dibs on the starting left field job. The other, is of course the ongoing battle for shortstop. Anthony Volpe continued to make his very strong case this afternoon in the Yankees’ other game, as he showed an excellent ability to adjust and took Pablo López deep. Meanwhile, Oswald Peraza had a solid day of his own, as he went 2-for-4 with pairs of singles and runs against the Orioles.
After dropping both games off this split-squad Friday, the Yankees are back at it again Saturday against the Phillies. They’ll send out Randy Vasquez to the bump to face off against Aaron Nola and the reigning National League champs. First pitch is scheduled for 1:05 EST at BayCare Ballpark in Clearwater.