The Yankees ended their 2015 exhibition slate with a win against the Washington Nationals. The game was played in Nationals Park, giving the team a feel of a major league ballpark before heading back to New York for the opening series of the regular season against the Blue Jays.
Nathan Eovaldi, making his final tune-up start before the regular season, was knocked around in the first inning, allowing the first three batters to reach base on a pair of singles and a walk; all three runners would come around to score. Eovaldi settled down after though, making it through five innings with no further damage. Three walks and four hits on the day, but none of the hits were of the extra-base variety, and more importantly six strikeouts in those five innings, against a talented Nationals lineup even if it was missing a couple of regulars. Hopefully Eovaldi's improved strikeout form this spring carries over to the regular season.
The Yankees sent their opening day lineup to face Doug Fister, but with little success early. Fister was perfect on his first go-around the order before hitting Jacoby Ellsbury - who thankfully was not hurt - and giving up a single to Brett Gardner. First and second with nobody out didn't turn into anything in the fourth inning for the Yankees, but New York scored two runs in the fifth after Brian McCann doubled and Stephen Drew hit a two-out, two-run shot. Rebound candidate Drew has quietly had himself a very promising spring, with 15 hits in 54 at-bats, with three home runs and nine runs batted in. Gardner also had a good afternoon at the plate with a pair of hits, including a bunt single.
Facing the Nationals closer Drew Storen in the eighth, Didi Gregorius reached second on a wind-aided, but hard-hit, double. Chris Young hit the second two-run home run for the Yankees on the day. giving New York the lead. The Yankee bullpen made the lead count, as relievers may have been given a preview of the roles they will be deployed in during the regular season. Chris Martin pitched a spotless sixth with two strikeouts. Justin Wilson got two outs in the seventh before Girardi put in David Carpenter, who surrendered a triple but got out of the inning and was the pitcher on record when Young put the Yankees up. Andrew Miller and Dellin Betances took on the eighth and ninth respectively, neither was perfect but both got the job done.
The Yankees are off tomorrow, before the regular season begins. First up, the Toronto Blue Jays, at 1:05 pm Eastern time. The next game counts.