Usually when the team has to make a two and a half hour bus trip, just about all of the regulars get to stay home. That wasn’t the case today, as Mark Teixeira, Robbie Cano, Hideki Matsui and Brett Gardner headed to Fort Myers to take on the Twinkies this afternoon. Phil Hughes got the start in place of Andy Pettitte (more on that later) and was solid, tossing four and a third innings of three hit, one run ball. He walked one and didn’t strike out any, but he got by thanks to a 10-3 GB/FB rate. Hughes was taken out after reaching his pitch limit (65 pitches, 41 strikes), and afterward said that he feels strong and ready to go, although he admitted his curve wasn’t cooperating today.
Jason Johnson relieved Hughes and allowed a run in his 1.2 innings of work, while the trio of Anthony Claggett, David Robertson and Kei Igawa held the Twins scoreless over the final three frames. Igawa loaded the bases on a hit and a pair of walks with one out in the ninth, but induced a game ending double play off the bat of Denard Span.The Kei-Man is up to 12.2 scoreless innings, but is anyone have a more under-the-rader spring than Claggett? Including today, he’s allowed just six baserunners (three hits, three walks) in nine innings this spring.
Trailing 2-0 in the sixth, the Yanks got on the board when Teixeira hit his first homer of the spring off Joe Nathan, who I hear is pretty good. Todd Linden – who’s only hit this spring came way back in the first exhibition game – hit a solo homer of his own off the uber-nasty Jose Mijares in the eighth to tie the game. Frankie Cervelli put the Good Guys out in front with a sac fly later in the inning, and Austin Jackson took ex-Yankee farmhand Jason Jones deep in the ninth for an insurance run. Cano went 1-for-3 and made several plays during the five innings he spent in the field, so it looks like the shoulder thing is behind him. Brett Gardner, Jose Molina and Shelley Duncan all contributed 1-for-3 efforts in the 4-2 win, the team’s eighth consecutive.
While all that was going on, Andy Pettitte threw against a team of minor leaguers back in Tampa. He tossed 5.1 innings, allowing one run on three hits and a walk. He also pulled a CC and struck out seven, throwing 44 of his 65 pitches for strikes. Catching him was Jorge Posada, who for the first time this spring played behind the plate on the consecutive days. He caught all of Pettitte’s 65 pitches, and had to make three throws to second base. All three players were successful on their stea attempts, and two of the steals were by runners put on intentionally to test Posada. Although it would have been nice to see him throw someone out, the important thing is that he said he felt fine after the game.
Joba Chamberlain will face Rick Porcello and the Tigers tomorrow afternoon in Tampa. Too bad it won’t be televised, that’s as good a matchup as it gets.