The Yankees returned to action today against the Pittsburgh Pirates, and while a lot of the regulars didn't make the trip, that just means we all got a better look at some of the Yankees young, promising prospects. Greg Bird, Rob Refsnyder, and Jose Pirela all saw some action, as did Tyler Austin, whose sole at-bat of the game proved to be the difference, as he blasted a homer not just over the fence, but out of the entire stadium.
Esmil Rogers got the start and turned in two excellent innings as he struck out one, gave up a solitary hit, and kept the Pirates scoreless. Chase Whitley also refused to surrender a run over his two innings of work - he too struck out one and limited Pittsburgh to just two hits.
The Yankees struck first in the top of the fifth, as new Yankee Garrett Jones - the presumptive backup first baseman this season - took advantage of a ball lost in the sun by the Pirates' outfielders to double home outfielder Chris Young, who had doubled during the previous at bat. The Yankees didn't hold the lead for long, though, as the Pirates tied the game up in the bottom of the sixth. Cesar Vargas, after pitching a scoreless fifth inning, ran into some trouble in the heart of the Pirates order. Vargas surrendered a ground rule double to Willy Garcia, and after forcing Andrew McCutchen into a pop up, gave up a single to Jaff Decker, which scored Garcia.
Fred Lewis (who picked up the win) pitched a scoreless seventh for the Yankees, giving up just one hit while striking out two, even though the stadium and Pirates broadcast incorrectly announced him as Jacob Lindgren. In the top of the eighth, Austin - who replaced Young in right - slugged a 1-1 pitch from Deolis Guerra out of the park, breaking the tie and giving the Yankees the lead for good. Austin, who PSA ranked as the Yankees 11th best prospect, had a big second half last season after disappointing for about a year and a half. A big spring training from him would go a long way towards building his confidence, and might even give the Yankees some hope that he could contribute in the outfield maybe as early as this season.
Nick Rumbelow and Taylor Garrison finished off the Pirates in the eighth and ninth, surrendering just one hit between them (Rumblelow surrendered the hit, and also struck out the three other batters he faced). Tomorrow, the Yankees will play split squad games against the Pirates and Phillies.