5:05 PM Eastern
The Blue Jays played to a tie for the first time this spring, ending the festivities with the Yankees after a scoreless 10th inning and remaining unbeaten against The Bronx Bombers in 2011.
It wasn’t a pretty start for Brett Cecil, who struggled with his control all afternoon. Derek Jeter led off the game with a ground single to left that kicked off the glove of a diving Brett Lawrie, but two outs later he was still standing at second. That was when the Yanks got to work – an Alex Rodriguez double down the left field line (past a diving-the-other-way Lawrie) scored Jeter, then Robinson Cano ended one of several long at-bats with a two-run shot to right-centre. Cecil then hit Jorge Posada – just grazing his jersey – and walked Andruw Jones before getting Austin Romine on a weak grounder to third.
That was it for the scoring, but not for the grind, as Cecil still had 68 (by my unofficial count) pitches in him to get the 10 outs he managed to get after that 30-pitch frame. Even into the fourth inning, there was a point at which he’d thrown an equal number of balls and strikes, but he settled down in sailing through that fourth before running into trouble again in the fifth and winding up out of bullets.
His teammates came back for him, finally getting to Freddy Garcia the second time around. After he’d retired the first nine Blue Jays in order, Garcia didn’t get any of the first four on the next trip through the line-up, though he’d earned one. With runners on the corners, Eric Thames hit a grounder in the 3-4 hole on which Mark Teixeira made a nice diving play to his right. Teixeira got up firing towards the plate, but Rajai Davis managed to scamper back to third ahead of Romine’s throw to load the bases. A run scored on a wild pitch, then Lawrie fisted a looping single to centre to cash another ahead of a game-tying sac fly by David Cooper. Cooper then blasted a mammoth two-run homer over the bleachers in right field to give the Jays a short-lived lead in the 6th.
The last run of the game came on a ground single up the middle by Eduardo Nunez in the 6th, scoring Doug Bernier, who was running for Derek Jeter. Jeter had doubled with two out off Carlos Villanueva to extend the inning.
Villanueva was stretched out to two innings and Casey Janssen retired all four Yankees he faced, striking out Ronnie Bellaird and Jesus Montero to finish up his stint.
Mark Prior pitched the 8th inning for the Yankees, which was cool to see. He’s become one of the great cautionary tales – the ace starter with the perfect mechanics who was never going to break down but did anyway. He hasn’t thrown a big-league pitch since 2006, but at the tender age of 30 continues on the comeback trail. I wish him nothing but luck, and he’s a no-risk add for the Yankees. He looked fine today, striking out Lawrie looking and allowing a single to Thames in his one inning of work. If he can make it back, that increases the hope for Dustin McGowan – or maybe it’s vice-versa. After all, McGowan is younger and hasn’t spent nearly as much time on the sidelines as Prior has.
Despite the fact that it was my first look as super-prospect Jesus Montero, I didn’t see his one at-bat. I had just wrapped up with Cecil and was on my way back up from the clubhouse, so I can’t give you a scouting report on him. I do know that Russell Martin was scheduled to catch today, but Romine and Montero split the game instead – more than likely because of the workout A.J. Burnett gave Martin yesterday.
The collected works of audio number two today – first, my discussion with Brett Cecil, following his outing:
Also, some pre-game audio from John Farrell, talking mostly about the plight of Frank Francisco and who will replace him as closer to start the season. He also talks about Octavio Dotel, whose hamstring isn’t preventing him from throwing or doing upper body work, and who will likely see some minor-league game action in a couple of days:
Tomorrow, it’s the Blue Jays and Minnesota Twins in an Opening Day preview, with Jesse Litsch (who won’t throw in that opening series) looking to rebound from a rough last start and taking on Minny’s Scott Baker. We’ll have all the action for you across the Blue Jays Radio Network starting with the pre-game show at 12:30 PM Eastern, so make sure to tune in as well as hopping on the live blog that will be available here and at live.fan590.com starting with the first pitch.
And follow me on Twitter @InTheWilnerness, please!
Rational, reasonable comments are always welcome.