Dante Bichette Jr., had his first two spring training at bats in a late inning substitution on the last day of spring training with the wind blowing out and a steady rain pouring down. His first at bat was a high shot to the deepest part of center field (410 feet) that just cleared the fence. His second at bat ws a monster shot that again went to the deepest part of center field high into the centerfield backdrop. The Yankee blogs are undoubtedly buzzing about these two at bats that proved the difference in the Yankees 11-9 win in a rain shortened eight inning game. Not a bad major league spring training for the youngster, two at bats and two homeruns.
The day was not so good for Jordan Lyle, who probably punched his ticket for AAA. In the opening frame the Yankees had one bloop single and two groundball singles through the infield to score their first two runs. The Yankees added two more in the third, aided by a single that skipped by the immobile glove of Carlos Lee for an RBI single for Raul Ibanez, the second RBI for what would be a four RBI day for Ibanez. A fly ball to right for which Travis Buck made a diving catch scored another run. The Astros tried to appeal that the runner left first too early, but the first base umpire who made the out call also made the safe call on the tagup. Myworld does not know how he could see both plays, but I suppose some umpires have eyes in the back of their heads. The umpires were using a 3-man rotation and myworld thinks they botched this call. We didn’t see when Ibanez left first, but his soon to be 40 year old legs carried him to second base pretty quickly on the trapped out that had Ibanez in no man’s land.
It was the fifth inning that sealed Lyle’s fate. The Yankees bashed him pretty hard with Curtis Granderson roping the first pitch he saw for a double to right center field. Robinson Cano blasted the first pitch he saw over the right centerfield fence. Mark Teixiera at least took a strike before smashing a double down the left field line. Raul Ibanez ran the count to 1-2 before crushing a pitch over the right field fence. The four players in the Yankee lineup who will be considered starters batted 2-5 in the lineup and went 10-12 against Lyle in the game, with two homeruns. While he was able to get the backup catcher, utility player and minor leaguers out, the starters were a different story.
The Astro bats kept them in the game. They took a 4-2 lead after two when Justin Ruggiano blasted a ball to the deepest part of the park in centerfield for a 3-run homer. Marwin Gonzalez followed with a triple over the first base bag that Raul took too long to track. Gonzalez scored on a ground out.
After the Yankees had tied the game at 4-4, the Astros jumped ahead on three straight singles after two were out. Chris Snyder tagged the RBI single. The Astros could never recover after the Yankees 4-run onslaught in the fifth, though Carlos Lee launched a homerun in left center in the bottom frame to make it 8-6.
Brian Bogusevic and Chris Johnson were to hit solo shots in the gusting wind, but they were matched by the two solo homeruns from Dante Bichette Jr. and a solo shot from Jose Gil. Bichette had followed the Gil blast to make it back to back with the first two hitters that Brandon Lyon faced in the eighth.
The game was called in the top of the ninth with a runner on first and two out.
Game Notes: The stadium was filled with “Let’s go Yankee” chants. Fathers were teaching their sons how to make the chant…There were some pretty big gusts of wind that were aiding the homerun blasts after the fifth inning. Bichette got his balls high in the air and if taken by a gust of wind could have easily aided in his homeruns…The conditions were not great after the rains came. Preston Claiborne was called for a balk after he slipped off the mound and didn’t make the pitch…Travis Buck was a bit too casual tracking a ball hit into right field and it skipped past him after hitting the ground, turning a single into a double…Not particularly impressed with the DP pivot of Jose Altuve.
Prospect Watch:The biggest news for Yankee fans were the two homeruns from their top prospect Dante Bichette Jr. in his first two at bats. That will have the hundred or so Yankee blogs buzzing. Mason Williams played centerfield and had to follow the Bichette blasts. He had three swings and misses in his first at bat and grounded to short in his second, trying to convince the ump that he was safe with his own safe call when he was clearly out by a step. Benjamin Gamel and Anderson Feliz, both got to pinch hit in the DH spot and the twenty year olds both struck out. Adam Warren went five plus innings, but he doesn’t look to have great stuff. The Astros bashed him around for five runs…Marwin Gonzalez held his own at short and tripled in three at bats. He did turn and look on his hit to the right field corner while racing into second rather than watch the third base coach waving him to third. J.B. Shuck struck out in his only at bat. He will probably be sent down even if Jordan Schaeffer is not ready. The Astros have been playing Brian Bogusevic in the leadoff spot and playing him in centerfield. Ruben Alaniz looked sharp in his two innings of work. He gave up the first pitch homerun to Bichette, and a double to Francisco Cervelli, but he struck out five of the six hitters he retired, all of the hitters late inning defensive replacements.