C.C. Sabathia and five relievers combined to break the Yankees’ mini-losing skid with a 4-2 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates in Bradenton, FL on Thursday. Sabathia, who had struggled during his first two spring starts, has bounced back nicely to have three straight excellent starts. He moves to 3-1 to close out his exhibition season by pitching four scoreless frames, allowing three hits, but not striking out or walking a single batter.
The scoring got started early for the Bombers, as Ichiro Suzuki, still trying to prove his worth to the Yankees, and possibly another suitor for more playing time, led off with a single, advanced to third on an Eduardo Nunez single, and scored on an RBI ground out by Mark Teixeira. After a Brian McCann fly out, Nunez came home on an RBI single by Zoilo Almonte. Pirates’ starter Stolmy Pimentel finally escaped any further damage by retiring Yangervis Solarte to end the Yankees top of the first.
For the next couple of innings, the Yankees and Pirates traded zeroes, before the Yankees broke through for two more runs in their half of the fourth. With two out in the inning, Adonis Garcia doubled, and was brought home by an Ichiro single. Suzuki moved up to second base on a wild pitch by Pimentel, and came around to score on a Nunez single. Sabathia retired the Pirates without damage to complete his day.
A combination of Dellin Betances, Vidal Nuno, and Adam Warren kept the Pirates at bay until the bottom of the eighth, when David Phelps came on, and allowed two runs on three hits, and was lifted after 2/3 of an inning for Cesar Cabral. He went the final inning and a third to record his first save of the spring, and to preserve the victory for the Yankees. Ichiro and Nunez each finished with a 3-for-4 day, while Almonte was perfect at the plate, going 3-for-3.