When the Braves and the Yankees who bothered to travel to Orlando started playing today, the Yanks’ lineup featured Johnny Damon, Brett Gardner, Xavier Nady and, um, Jose Molina. The team has to send four starters, and well, that’s the crowd they put together.
Unsurprisingly, by the time the ninth inning rolled around and Doug Bernier and Todd Linden were in the lineup, the Yanks were facing a one-run deficit. They never closed the gap and despite decently strong pitching, fell 3-2 to Atlanta. The team hasn’t won a game since Feb. 26. It matters little.
For the Yanks, Ian Kennedy started and didn’t have his breaking pitches going early on. He gave up a pair of runs in the first, and the Yanks would never recover. He settled down and allowed no more runs while giving up three total hits and a walk. He struck out nary a batter. Dan Giese relieved, going three strong and surrendering a run. He struck out three and walked one in a very solid outing. Andrew Brackman and Mark Melancon pitched a scoreless inning each. Melancon has now made three spring appearances without surrendering a run. He’ll get some early game action soon to face some big league hitters.
Offensively, the Yanks went 5 for 31 against the Braves, and no one had more than one hit. Johnny Damon tripled, and Dan Giese picked up a hit. That was about all.
This is of course the problem with spring road games during the WBC. The Yanks’ big guns are away from the team, and they don’t have to take too many other players with them. The pitchers got in the work they needed; the hitters got their swings. The outcome just doesn’t matter.
Things will start to heat up tomorrow when Joba takes on Team Canada at 1:15 p.m. After him come the rest of the the starting five for the first time this spring. Mariano Rivera is also primed to throw a bullpen on Thursday as the Yanks while away the lazy days of March. Just 33 more days until Opening Day.