The primary Yankees stories entering into their spring matinee against the Cardinals on Wednesday afternoon featured a chance to watch ace Gerrit Cole prepare for Opening Day, and an intriguing new defensive alignment that could be deployed in 2023.
The Yankees tested out Aaron Judge in left field with Giancarlo Stanton in right. It was Judge’s first game in left at any level since he was in Triple-A in 2016 (not counting the 2018 All-Star Game). The idea comes out of the Yankees wanting to get Stanton into the field more, which is something they apparently would like to do more this season to open up the DH spot. Judge wasn’t tested much in left in this game, fielding only two singles and not recording a putout. Stanton saw even less work, only having to field a ball on a no-doubt single to right-center field that bounced his way.
As for Cole, he looked mostly pretty good, allowing two hits and a hit by pitch in 3.1 innings. He fanned seven batters in a very breezy outing.
Despite all that, the Yankees’ offense couldn’t get much of anything going, dooming them to a 4-0 loss to the Cardinals.
The first run of the game came in the top of the fifth. Greg Weissert had replaced Cole in the fourth, and got himself in and out of trouble. He returned for the fifth, but would run into more problems. Weissert got two outs before issuing a walk, ending his day. The pitching change actually came in the middle of Aaron Boone’s mid-game interview with the YES broadcasting team, causing him to take a brief break from the chat.
Aaron Boone got up to make a pitching change MID-INTERVIEW and came back to finish the question.— YES Network (@YESNetwork) March 8, 2023
Total pro pic.twitter.com/NuH5EXSn6A
Minor leaguer Aaron McGarity came in for him and allowed back-to-back singles, the second of which plated a run.
Many of the regulars exited the game after the fifth inning, including Judge and Stanton in the outfield. However, another regular then took the mound in the sixth inning. Clay Holmes came in for the sixth and struck out two in a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it, 1-2-3 inning.
Clay in control. @ClayHolmes21 pic.twitter.com/DmAulK52Ct— New York Yankees (@Yankees) March 8, 2023
Wandy Peralta was then brought in for the seventh inning, but this matinee was not a good one for the typically reliable southpaw. After an automatic double from Masyn Winn that stayed just fair, Mike Antico reached on a bunt single that no infielder had a good play on. Before Peralta could record an out, 2022 rookie standout Brendan Donovan clubbed a three-run homer to increase St. Louis’ lead.
One of the interesting positional notes from after the starters exited was Oswaldo Cabrera getting some time in center field, as the Yankees continue to test how much of a utilityman he can be. At least on the eye test, he was solid, making a nice catch to end the eighth inning.
If Cabrera does appear there in a regular season game, then that would leave just catcher and pitcher as his only remaining defensive spots to mark on his defensive Bingo card.
In the end, the Yankees’ offense — starters or reserves — just couldn’t get much of anything going. Judge, Anthony Rizzo, Giancarlo Stanton, and Rodolfo Durán recorded a hit each, but none were strung together enough to push across a run. The Yankees had one last chance at something in the ninth when Cabrera reached on an error. However, he was promptly erased by a double play, ending the final shot at some runs, and dooming them to a 4-0 loss.
Tomorrow, the Yankees will welcome the Red Sox to Steinbrenner Field, where they’ll hopefully get some more offense. Rotation contender Clarke Schmidt is set to face Nick Pivetta with first pitch coming at 1:05pm ET.