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By Gary W. Marchese Jr.
Tampa, FL (March 25) – The New York Yankees defeated the Houston Astros Friday night by the score of 6-4. Ivan Nova made the start and did nothing to lose his spot as the fourth starter, it is unofficial, but everyone realizes that he will be the fourth starter. Nova pitched six innings giving up two runs on three hits with two walks and two strikeouts. He threw 98 pitches in the game and finished the spring 2-0 with a 1.80 ERA.
Rafael Soriano pitched 2/3 of an inning giving up two hits and two runs with one of them being earned. Soriano struck out two batters, Boone Logan struck out the only batter he faced, he has been piling up the strikeouts this spring. Joba Chamberlain pitched a scoreless inning giving up a hit and striking out two and Dave Robertson gave up a hit and a walk in a scoreless inning. Robertson struck out two batters.
The Yankees had their regular bullpen on display and it was good other then Soriano who struggled for the first time this spring.
Brett Gardner had two hits and two RBI out of the leadoff spot, the Yankees are still trying to decide if he or Derek Jeter will lead-off and they may even had them each do it against different pitching. They could have Jeter against the lefty starters and Gardner against the righty starters. Jeter and Ramiro Pena each had a hit, Mark Teixeira drew two walks, and Robinson Cano had a hit.
Ronnie Belliard had a hit and an RBI, Eric Chavez had three hits, and an RBI and Russell Martin had two hits, two RBI and a walk. Jesus Montero had a hit as we learned today that Gustavo Molina might be the frontrunner for the backup catcher position. Montero may start the year at AAA Scranton and Austin Romine at AA Trenton.
The Yankees figure they could get by until Francisco Cervelli comes back at the end of April, beginning of May. Montero is only 21 and could use more minor-league time, why rush him and if he does have a great start down there they can always call him up then. The Yankees are 11-14 on the spring and will play the Pittsburgh Pirates Saturday afternoon in Tampa. The game will be on the YES Network at 1:05PM.
The Yankees had a busy day off the field as well as they traded Sergio Mitre to the Milwaukee Brewers for outfielder Chris Dickerson. The Yankees needed some outfield depth and if Curtis Granderson is placed on the disabled list to start the season he could come North with the Yankees. It appears that the Yankees are leaning towards handing Freddy Garcia the fifth spot and Bartolo Colon will be coming out of the bullpen. They feel his stuff may be better suited there and they worry about his durability. They also signed veteran Kevin Millwood to a minor league deal, he will start the season in AAA Scranton and has a out clause that triggers May 1st.
This basically gives the Yankees and extra month to figure out their pitching, if Millwood is pitching well and Garcia or Colon aren’t or both of them he could be called up and become the fifth starter and one of the other two will be released.
The Yankees are not necessarily in love with any of them so they figure the more the better that they can piece together the fifth starters spot. The Yankees really like Nova and that is why he will be the fourth starter, it does not hurt that he pitched so well this spring to cement his status.