On a cool night at Steinbrenner Field, the New York Yankees unveiled one of their pitchers that fans have rarely seen on a mound over his brief Yankee career. Former Seattle Mariner Michael Pineda stole the show in the middle innings as he threw two scoreless innings, gave up only one hit, and struck out four Detroit Tigers, including Miguel Cabrera. Unfortunately, Yankees’ fans were not able to see the game that ended in a 3-2 Yankees’ win due to it not being available on TV or radio.
According to Andrew Marchand of ESPN New York, a scout told him that Pineda’s fastball was between 91 and 93 miles per hour, along with a slider between 79-82 mph. Two of his strikeouts (Cabrera and Danny Worth) resulted via the slider. Considering it is early March, this is a great sign to see Pineda dominate the strike zone (21/27 pitches for strikes), throw with good velocity, and have confidence in his stuff.
Pineda’s debut will overshadow a stellar performance by tonight’s Yankees’ starting pitcher, Hiroki Kuroda. Kuroda went 2.2 innings, giving up only one hit, walked one, and struck out five. The only hit Kuroda gave up was a two-out double in the top of the 1st by none other than Miguel Cabrera. It was Kuroda’s first start of the spring.
The Yankees’ offense didn’t produce much, but they have the signature blast. In the bottom of the 3rd inning, Carlos Beltran hit his second home run of the spring, a two-run homer to right field off of Tigers’ starter Anibal Sanchez. The other bright spot for the Bombers’ offense was Derek Jeter. After starting the spring hitless in his first ten at-bats, Jeter has reached base in five straight plate appearances. He had two singles and a walk in three plate appearances tonight.
Both teams had their projected Opening Day closers pitch in this game as Joe Nathan and David Robertson threw a scoreless inning in each of their relief appearances. However, the Yankees did not get a good performance from lefty Matt Thornton, who gave up two runs on four hits in the 7th inning to surrender the Yankees’ 2-0 lead.
It was also a night of reunions in Tampa as Joba Chamberlain faced his former team for the first time. Facial hair and all, Chamberlain struck out two Yankees and gave up one hit in his lone inning of relief.
Preston Claiborne and Jim Miller held the Tigers scoreless in the final inning. Then, in the bottom of the 9th inning, the Yankees were able to win the game on a walk-off balk by Tigers’ pitcher Luis Marte that scored third baseman Zelous Wheeler.
On Saturday afternoon, the Yankees will be in Osceola to take on a split squad of the Houston Astros at 1:05 PM ET on MLB Network. Ivan Nova is scheduled to make his third start of the spring against Jarred Cosart for the Astros. Cossart could be one of the pitchers that faces the Yankees in the opening series less than a month from now.