Fans at George M. Steinbrenner Field were treated to an Opening Day-esque batting order on Monday night, with DJ LeMahieu, Aaron Judge, and Anthony Rizzo leading off the first. Several of the spring training competitions were also on display with Domingo Germán on the mound, top prospect Anthony Volpe at short, and Aaron Hicks, Rafael Ortega, and Willie Calhoun manning the outfield. The bats certainly did not disappoint, as a six-run second inning barrage catapulted the Yankees to an eventual 9-2 victory.
Hicks dropped a lazy fly ball from Oneil Cruz to open the contest, but made sure the mishap wouldn’t be a harbinger of things to come. He would finish the day with a double and a single as he fights for a starting job this spring.
LeMahieu led off the bottom of the first with a classic opposite-field single by inside-outting a fastball on the inner-half, but was thrown out trying to stretch it to a double (though replays clearly showed his foot getting in ahead of the tag). Rizzo and Josh Donaldson also contributed singles in the frame but the Yankees failed to cash either in.
Hicks atoned for his defensive hiccup in the first, yanking a 104.6-mph single down the right-field foul line to lead off the second. Non-roster invitee Calhoun continued his scorching start to spring with a single of his own, raising his spring average to .583. With runners on the corners, Jose Trevino laced a single to center to plate Hicks and open the scoring. Following a walk by Ortega to load the bases, LeMahieu grounded a single up the middle to bring Calhoun and Trevino home and knock Ortiz from the contest.
Colin Selby entered the game to face Aaron Judge with a pair of runners on and quickly worked the count to 0-2. Perhaps lucky to continue the at-bat following a dubious missed called strike three, Judge took advantage of the extra strike two pitches later, demolishing a hanging slider for a three-run opposite field bomb to make it 6-0, New York.
Up 7-0 entering the fourth, the Yankees made their first substitution of the game, replacing Judge at DH with Estevan Florial, who promptly walked and stole second and later third. The wholesale changes started an inning later, and by the sixth, all the starters had been replaced, giving us a look at some of the other exciting prospects in camp.
This ended Volpe’s day with a single and a pair of walks. Just as impressive as his showing at the plate were some of the slick plays he made with the glove. He applied a quick tag on Cruz on a throw from Rizzo to complete a double play in the first and made a nice play charging a soft grounder followed by a strong accurate throw to end the second.
By this point, Germán had completed his outing. He gave the Yankees three impressive scoreless innings, yielding just a single and a walk. His four-seamer sat at 94 — a solid tick above its average velocity last season — and he was able to induce at least a 40-percent whiff rate with each of the fastball, curveball, and changeup.
Jimmy Cordero and Ian Hamilton followed him in relief, each completing a scoreless frame.
Speaking of the Yankees’ other top prospects, a pair got in on the action in the bottom of the sixth. Volpe walked with one out, followed by a Michael Hermosillo hit by pitch. Sixth-ranked prospect Everson Pereira scalded a 106.3-mph single up the middle to load the bases for Jasson Domínguez, who grounded into a fielder’s choice followed by a throwing error that allowed a pair to score to make it 9-0 Yankees. Domínguez would collect his own 106-mph single in the seventh as he continues to impress this spring to the tune of a .429 average with a pair of home runs.
Intriguing pitching prospect Yoendrys Gómez gave the Yankees a pair of scoreless innings in the sixth and seventh, pouring in several high-90s fastballs and a nasty slider that induced a 75 percent whiff rate and helped him collect a pair of strikeouts. Pittsburgh clawed a run back in each of the eighth and ninth innings, but the Yankees were on cruise control at this point as they coasted to a 9-2 win.
New York has a day off tomorrow before welcoming the Cardinals to GMS Field on Wednesday. YES Network has the broadcast as Gerrit Cole is slated to face Jake Woodford. First pitch is scheduled for 1:05 PM ET so be sure to join us in the game thread.