New York Yankees Spring Training Game Recap: Homers by Baby Bombers Judge, Mateo Fuel Yankees Win against Red Sox

Feb 28, 2016; Tampa, FL, USA; New York Yankees outfielder Aaron Judge (99) prepares to hit in the batting cage during the workout at George M. Steinbrenner Field. Mandatory Credit: Jonathan Dyer-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 28, 2016; Tampa, FL, USA; New York Yankees outfielder Aaron Judge (99) prepares to hit in the batting cage during the workout at George M. Steinbrenner Field. Mandatory Credit: Jonathan Dyer-USA TODAY Sports /

On Saturday afternoon, a sold-out crowd at George M. Steinbrenner Field watched the New York Yankees (1-2) square off against their AL East rivals, the Boston Red Sox (2-1) as they looked to avoid dropping three straight exhibition games.

Jacoby Ellsbury made his Grapefruit debut, leading off a Yankees line-up that also included top-prospect Jorge Mateo starting at shortstop:

  1. Jacoby Ellsbury, CF
  2. Carlos Beltran, RF
  3. Alex Rodriguez, DH
  4. Mark Teixeira, 1B
  5. Brian McCann, C
  6. Chase Headley, 3B
  7. Dustin Ackley, 2B
  8. Ben Gamel, LF
  9. Jorge Mateo, SS

The starting nine for the Red Sox were led by talented outfielder Mookie Betts:

  1. Mookie Betts, RF
  2. Brock Holt, 2B
  3. Travis Shaw, 3B
  4. Allen Craig, 1B
  5. Jackie Bradley Jr., CF
  6. Bryce Bentz, DH
  7. Brennan Boesch, LF
  8. Deven Marrero, SS
  9. Sandy Leon, C

Tyler Cloyd (0-0, 6.75) took the hill for his second game with the Yankees, but the first inning quickly became a challenge for the right-hander. Mookie Betts got the game going with a triple that split the left-center gap. The next batter, Brock Holt, promptly drove Betts in with a single to right field. After Holt’s single, Cloyd settled down and stopped the Red Sox momentum by initiating a double play and getting a subsequent ground out.

Final line for Cloyd: 1.0 IP, 2 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 0 K

Knuckleballer Steven Wright, who gave the Yankees some trouble last season, was strong in his first inning for the Red Sox. Jacoby Ellsbury started his spring off by lining a blooper to third base for the first out. Two batters later, Alex Rodriguez gave the Yankees their first hit with a single up the middle, but was stranded after Teixeira flied out left field.

Chasen Shreve replaced Cloyd in the second inning and was seamless in his first game of the spring. A 1-2-3 inning held the Red Sox to their 1-0 lead.

Final line for Shreve: 1.0 IP, 0 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 K

The Yankees had their first runner in scoring position after a 1-out walk to Chase Headley, and a wild pitch by Wright, advanced him to second base. But again, Headley was left on-base after Dustin Ackley and Ben Gamel failed to collect hits. Heading into the third inning, the Red Sox still had a 1-0 lead.

New York sent another new reliever out for the top of the third. Nick Rumbelow was in charge of retiring the Red Sox hitters, but after getting Deven Marrero to pop out to second base, Sandy Leon doubled off the right field wall. Rumbelow didn’t allow Leon to go any farther though, as he got Betts and Holt to ground out and end the half-inning.

Final line for Rumbelow: 1.0 IP, 1 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 0 K

Wright remained on the hill for the bottom of the third, and Jorge Mateo welcomed him with a bomb over the left field wall that tied the game at 1-1. During a mid-game interview later in the broadcast, Joe Girardi noted that Mateo’s home-run was an impressive feat for a prospect that likely doesn’t face many knuckleballers in the minors. After Ellsbury grounded out for his second at-bat, back-to-back singles by Beltran and Rodriguez kept the Yankees rally going. A third consecutive single to the outfield, this one hit by Teixeira, pushed Beltran across the plate to put the Yankees in the lead 2-1. McCann and Headley would both ground out to end the third inning.

LHP Tyler Olson replaced Rumbelow and pitched the fourth inning for the Yankees, retiring the side in order with two ground outs and a fly out.

Left-hander Tommy Layne was Boston’s second pitcher of the game, as he pitched in the bottom of the fourth. After Ackley flew out to Bradley Jr. in center field, young outfield prospect Ben Gamel singled for his first hit of the spring. Mateo came to the plate looking to build upon his impressive first at-bat, but instead grounded into a double play to put a stamp on the fourth inning.

Hard-throwing reliever Johnny Barbato took over for Olson to begin the fifth, and he continued to distinguish himself in the Yankees’ Opening Day bullpen battle. The right-hander started the inning off by striking out Bryce Brentz, and sandwiched a ground out from Brennan Boesch with another strikeout, this time getting Deven Marrero to go down swinging on a foul tip. For his second outing this spring, Barbato flashed mid-90s fastballs while keep hitters off-balance with curve balls in the low-to-mid-80s.

Barbato’s final line: 1.0 IP, 0 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 2 K

In the bottom of the fifth, Ellsbury smacked his first hit of Spring Training into the right-center gap and stretched it out for a triple against Boston’s Robbie Ross Jr. Beltran would follow-up with an RBI ground out to shortstop and extend New York’s lead to 3-1.

Continuing their trend of one-inning-per-pitcher, the Yankees sent out LHP Richard Bleier to kick off the sixth. Bleier would throw a successful half-inning by getting two ground outs and striking out Betts.

After an uneventful bottom of the sixth, thanks in part to good pitching by Red Sox pitcher Williams Jerez, the Yankees sent in a new wave of defensive substitutes (among them was Rob Refsnyder at second base). A pitch by new Yankees reliever Kyle Haynes that was hit by Travis Shaw, the first batter of the inning, found Refsnyder for a routine ground-ball play. Refsnyder managed to one-hop the throw from mere feet away to newly-inserted 1B Chris Parmelee, but he dug it out of the dirt for the first out. Haynes would get Allen Craig to strike out and Bradley Jr. to ground out to Parmelee and end the top of the seventh.

Refsnyder singled up the middle off RHP Anthony Varvaro to begin the Yankees offensive drive in the seventh. Ronald Torreyes followed suit with a single to right field. After outfielder Dustin Fowler struck out for the first out, Yankees hulking outfield prospect Aaron Judge stepped up to the plate hoping to do some damage. During his at-bat, base-runners Refsnyder and Torreyes got excellent jumps off Varvaro and pulled off a double steal to place two runners in scoring position for Judge. It was a nice gesture, but the stolen bases became a moot point when Judge crushed an opposite-field 3-run homer into the stands in right field, giving Judge his first hit and home-run of the spring, and widening New York’s lead to 6-1.

RHP Mark Montgomery began the top of the eighth with a comfortable five-run advantage, and ended it with a slim two-run lead for the Yankees. After Boesch sent a 1-out solo shot over the right-field wall and shortened the score at 6-2, a passed ball by Yankees catcher Eddy Rodriguez on a strikeout of Dan Butler would prove costly. The next batter for the Red Sox, Ryan LaMarre, deposited a pitch out of the park to left field and turned a 4-run Boston deficit into a close 2-run ballgame.

Montgomery’s final line: 1.0 IP, 2 H, 3 R (1 ER), 2 SO

The Yankees failed to tack on any insurance runs off of Boston right-hander Kyle Martin in the bottom of the eighth, so they turned to Nick Goody to close out the game in the ninth and hold the team’s 6-4 lead.

Having no jitters left over from his sub-par performance trying to close out the Yanks’ spring opener versus Detroit, Goody got two pop outs and a ground out to end the game and raise New York’s spring record to .500.

Next: Yankees RHP Domingo German Shut Down for Two Weeks

Sunday, Masahiro Tanaka will debut for the Yankees as they take on the Philadelphia Phillies at 1:05 PM Eastern Time.