Before tonight’s game, the Yankees observed a moment of silence for the late Monica Barlow, who worked for PR for the Orioles until she passed away last weekend from her long battle with cancer. It was appropriately coincidental that tonight’s game against the Orioles was sponsored by “Delete Blood Cancer”, an organization for blood cancer research.
And then David Phelps started his 2.2 innings, albeit a little shaky, but a pretty good start overall. He allowed 5 total hits and a run. In the 3rd, he allowed a lead-off triple that scored easily on a groundout. Thorton finished the 3rd inning for Phelps, followed by Gordon for an inning and Leroux for 2, keeping the Orioles bats pretty silent.
In the mean time, the Yankees hit early in the game in the 2nd inning. With 2 outs, Francisco Cervelli hits the first home run in Steinbrenner Field this Spring. Then the Yankees hit back-to-back singles, so Yangervis Solarte can single home Brendan Ryan. So going into the 7th inning, the Yankees were up 2-1, thanks in part to some pretty good pitching from the Yankees bullpen tonight and a pretty great infield via the Brendan Ryan (shortstop), Brian Roberts (2nd base), and Russ Canzler (1st base).
But then pitcher Chase Whitley took the mound and really struggled to find command of the ball, earning today’s loss. So the 7th inning served up a single, a hit by pitch, an RBI single (to tie up the game), a walk to load the bases, a strike out (finally), an RBI ground out to push the Orioles ahead, and a fly out to get out of the inning. The Yankees could never fight back after that, even with pretty good pitching by Cabral and tonight’s closer Preston Claiborne. And so the Orioles broke the Yankees win streak, as the Yankees fell 3-2 to Baltimore.
I should mention that I was really fond of Claiborne’s pitching last year, and I remembered why tonight. Even though he allowed a hit, he was able to pitch his way around that and get out of the inning pretty quickly. With continued success like tonight’s game, Claiborne could find his way into a nice cushy spot in the bullpen, even maybe some 8th inning time as the Set-Up Man for presumed closer Robertson (or the Robertson to Robertson’s Rivera).
Okay, players to watch: Scott Sizemore, who, from 2nd base, pulled off a neat double play in the 8th, scooping the ball in play, tagging the runner down as he began his slide, and firing it to 1st for the out; Sizemore mentioned that wearing #24 would be big shoes to fill, but I’m already loving his defensive prowess. And Mason Williams, who had a sweet dive in shallow right-center field for a fly ball out in the 9th.
And as usual, Steinbrenner Field was filled with enjoyable surprises. Before the game, Canzler’s BP included a line drive to Brendan Ryan’s hand. No permanent damage, but Ryan’s palm was showing signs of a deep bruise before game time. And in the 3rd inning, Brian Roberts hit a nice solid foul ball over the heads of the fans and right smack into one of the office windows above the suites, leaving quite a mark and shattered bits of window in what I’m guessing was pretty shatter-proof glass. Apparently, it was one of the Boss’ old office windows (now his son and co-chairman Hank’s office), so in a way, it was like involving him in the game once again. And in that vein, some of the Yankee bigwigs were in the house tonight, including another co-chairperson Jennifer Steinbrenner and GM Brian Cashman. There’s certainly never a dull moment in Yankee Universe.