David Phelps is making it really hard for Joe Girardi to name Michael Pineda the fifth starter. Phelps retired 12 in-a-row at one point, giving up just two runs in six innings to a Boston Red Sox lineup very close to the one we'll see on Opening Day, in the Yankees' 3-2 win over the Sox Thursday night at JetBlue Park in Fort Myers, Florida.
Francisco Cervelli continued to hit with a hot bat, blasting his fourth homerun of the spring, sending a ball over the faux Monster in left field.
Phelps put on one of his best performances of the spring in this game. We has throwing strikes and getting ahead in the count against the Sox, who generally take a lot of pitches and make pitchers work. He had only given up one hit through the first four innings. After giving up a double to Shane Victorino with one out in the 2nd, he didn't permit another base runner until walking Daniel Nava with one out in the 5th.
The only real trouble Phelps ran into on the night came in the 6th inning when David Ross singled to open the bottom half of the inning, then Grady Sizemore singled a couple batters later. After a groundout moved both runners over to 2nd and 3rd, Dustin Pedroia ripped a double into right-center field, scoring both runners.
Phelps walked the next batter, David Ortiz, but was able to get out the jam by getting Mike Napoli to pop-out in the infield. He finished the night with six innings of two-run ball, striking out three while walking two.
Cervelli opened the scoring with his solo homerun off of Clay Buchholtz in the 2nd inning. The Yankees have to be really excited about the way he's been playing this spring, and even though he'll probably cool off a bit at the beginning of the season with less playing time, Cervelli will still be a pretty good backup catcher for Brian McCann.
Ichiro hasn't been playing too badly this spring, certainly making a case for some more playing time. He drove in a pair of runs in the 5th inning on a two-runs single against Buchholtz, making it a 3-0 Yankees lead. He'll probably still start the season as the fifth outfielder, but you have to think that if Jacoby Ellsbury or anyone else has to miss any time because of injury, Ichiro will be considered to replace whoever is hurt.
The Yankees got some more good performances out of the bullpen from Chris Leroux, Fred Lewis and Matt Daley, who have all not given up a run this spring. Leroux did not allow a base runner in 1.1 innings, Lewis got through 2/3 of an inning, giving up one hit, and Daley pitched a scoreless 9th inning.
Even though all three of those pitchers have been very good this spring, the limited bullpen spots will probably have both start the season in Triple-A as depth, waiting by the phone to get the call after the inevitable injury happens or someone starts to struggle.
The Yankees are back in Tampa for another night game tomorrow night when they host the Pittsburgh Pirates at GMS Field. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 pm ET. CC Sabathia takes the mound for the Yankees, with Edison Volquez getting the call for Pittsburgh.