David Phelps had a tough task ahead of him tonight as he had to face an almost-full lineup from the powerful Red Sox, but he performed admirably over six innings. Not only did he allow just four hits, two walks, and two run, but he also retired 12 Red Sox in a row at one point. The Yankees backed Phelps with just enough offense to end up with a win in Ft. Myers at Fenway South.
Phelps worked around a one-out double by Shane Victorino in the first inning, strand him by retiring the formidable duo of Dustin Pedroia and David Ortiz. His batterymate, Francisco Cervelli, continued his scorching hot spring with a long homer to deep left over the faux Green Monster, his fourth round-tripper of camp. Spring training stats should be taken with a grain of salt, but there's no denying that Cervelli has come to came ready to back up Brian McCann and step in whenever he is needed. And hey, building possible trade value doesn't hurt one bit, either.
After Victorino's double in the first, the next 12 Boston batters went down in order against Phelps, as he got three strikeouts during this streak as well. Both Mike Napoli and Daniel Nava were fooled on two-seamers that snuck into the strike for called strike threes, and he also got Victorino swinging in the third as well. The streak ended with one out in the fifth inning when Phelps walked Nava, but he quickly bounced back by inducing a ground ball double play from top prospect Xander Bogaerts.
The right-hander endured a bit of a rocky sixth inning, when the Red Sox scored ther only two runs of the game. David Ross led off with a single, Jonathan Herrera hit into a forced at second base, and Grady Sizemore singled to right, moving pinch-runner Carlos Rivero into scoring position. Phelps almost escaped without allowing a run when Victorino hit a comebacker, but Pedroia laced a two-run into right-center field. Although he then walked Ortiz, Phelps ended his evening on a high note when Napoli popped up to strand Pedroia at second base. Despite slipping toward the finish line, it was overall a fine performance from Phelps. Michael Pineda seems set to earn the fifth spot in the rotation, but Phelps appears more than ready if called upon to replace a starter at any point or provide productive innings out of the bullpen.
The Yankees never trailed in this game, as they built a 3-0 lead before Phelps's one bad frame. They went down in order against Buchholz 11 batters in a row after Cervelli's homer, but a two-out rally in the fifth sparked by the Brothers Zed snapped them out of the funk. Zoilo Almonte walked and Zelous Wheeler smacked a double to right field, moving them both into scoring position for Ichiro Suzuki. The veteran outfielder came through with a grounder through the right side for a base hit, scoring both Zoilo and Zelous to make it 3-0. Dean Anna, starting in place of Brendan Ryan (scratched for back spasms unrelated to his earlier oblique injury), singled to keep the inning alive, but Eduardo Nunez did Eduardo Nunez things by killing the rally on a comebacker. Alas.
Both bullpens did a nice job keeping the offense quiet for the rest of the game. Chris Capuano pitched three scoreless innings out of the bullpen for the Red Sox, and the Yankees' bullpen trio of Chris Leroux (who ran his scoreless inning streak up to 10 1/3 in spring), Fred Lewis, and Matt Daley finished off the Red Sox to polish off the 3-2 victory. Any opportunity to beat Boston is welcome, even if the game meant nothing. So huzzah!