The Yankees traveled to Bradenton, Florida, to kick off Grapefruit League action against the Pittsburgh Pirates. A couple of the newest members of the Yankees got the team out to an early lead, but a bullpen implosion in the seventh inning led to New York dropping their first real spring training game to the Bucs, 6-5.
It started well enough with the Yankees jumping out to an early 2-0 lead after one inning, thanks to a lead off walk by Jacoby Ellsbury who was driven in by a single off the bat of Brian McCann. It was good to see the new additions to the team making an impact immediately. Edinson Volquez replaced Francisco Liriano in the second inning, but another walk by Ellsbury and a two-run homer off the bat of Yangervis Solarte got the Yankees out to a nice lead with Ivan Nova on the mound. Nova pitched 1.2 innings, allowing two hits and two walks before leaving in favor of Bruce Billings after putting two on in the inning. Billings proceeded to allow both of the inherited runners to score to cut the lead in half.
The majority of the Pirates' damage came in the seventh inning off Chase Whitley, who put two runners on via a single and a hit by pitch before serving up a three-run homer to Tony Sanchez. That homer tied the game at 5-5 before Chris McGuinness singled to drive in the go-ahead run for Pittsburgh in a four-run inning.
Impressive performances on the pitching side included Dellin Betances working two scoreless innings and Preston Claiborne and Cesar Cabral each tossing a scoreless inning to close out the game. Yangervis Solarte, who is battling for a spot in the infield, had two hits including his home run. He made a sparkling play in the field that drew plenty of praise from the beat writers on Twitter, but he also committed a fielding error by booting a routine grounder. Still, his day was much more good than bad. Mason Williams drove in the Yankees' final run with an RBI double that scored Francisco Arcia. Williams' 2013 season was incredibly disappointing, so a nice showing in spring training from him would go a long way toward restoring hope in him for the coming year.
The Yankees will have a chance to even the score against the Pirates tomorrow when Pittsburgh visits Steinbrenner Field at 1:05 pm. It will be the first televised game of the spring, which you can catch on MLB.tv or YES. Derek Jeter is expected to make his spring training debut in the game tomorrow, playing shortstop for about five innings. David Phelps gets the start against Charlie Morton.