Yankees: Good news and bad news in 5-3 loss to the Orioles

yankees, gerrit cole
Mar 19, 2023; Tampa, Florida, USA; New York Yankees pitcher Gerrit Cole (45) throws a pitch in the first inning of a spring training game against the Baltimore Orioles at George M. Steinbrenner Field. Mandatory Credit: Jonathan Dyer-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Yankees can’t buy a win during spring training, having lost seven of their last nine games, including a 5-3 defeat on Sunday. Thankfully, these contests don’t make a difference. They are meant to help iron out deficiencies ahead of the regular season.

Gerrit Cole made his fourth spring training appearance against the Baltimore Orioles, struggling after putting together a solid 4.0 innings of action. It wasn’t until his final inning of work that he gave up a three-run homer and RBI double at the top of the 5th — we will get more into that later.

There were some positive offensive performances for the Bombers, notably that of DJ LeMahieu, who is seemingly back to full strength.

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Good news for the Yankees:

As mentioned, LeMahieu had a fantastic day, posting two hits and a run across three at-bats. After starting slow this spring, the team’s primary lead-off man is hitting .400 with a .444 OBP. This is great news ahead of Opening Day, especially since the Yankees aren’t sure if Anthony Volpe will make the 26-man roster. Volpe may slot in as the lead-off option if he gets the call-up.

Whether DJ features as a team lead-off man or slots in behind Giancarlo Stanton in the five-hole, he will make a significant impact. The question is, do they still plan to roll with Josh Donaldson on the hot corner despite his disappointing spring?

Aside from LeMahieu, Oswaldo Cabrera recorded two hits and an RBI across three at-bats. He’s hitting .270 with a .341 OBP this spring, featuring in left and center field on Sunday. Cabrera has proved to be a tremendous utility piece, and I wouldn’t rule out the possibility of him starting in left field with Hicks in center while Harrison Bader recovers from an oblique injury.

Luckily, Bader’s recovery is progressing quicker than expected.

Veteran first baseman Anthony Rizzo also got on the board Sunday, tallying an RBI and a walk across two at-bats. Giancarlo Stanton continued his hot streak, picking up a hit and run scored, elevating his average to .286.

As for the pitching, Albert Abreu and Jimmy Cordero combined for 2.0 innings and three strikeouts. Ron Marinaccio gave up his first earned run of spring training but struck out three batters in his lone inning of action.

The Yankees have struggled to put together team wins lately, but they’ve been testing plenty of prospects and still trying to iron out a few position battles, so we won’t see them at full strength until they take on the San Francisco Giants on Opening Day.

Bad news for the Yankees:

As referenced earlier, Gerrit Cole had a solid outing until he gave up a home run at the top of the 5th inning to catcher Anthony Bemboom. Cole now hosts a 3.94 ERA this spring, having given up seven earned runs and two homers over his last two performances. He started off spring training with 6.1 innings of scoreless ball, but he may be trying to shake off some rust and test some new pitches ahead of the regular season — this is a normal part of pitching programs.

Aside from Cole, the Yankees’ offense performed adequately despite posting only three runs. They picked up nine hits and struck out just eight times compared to Baltimore’s 14. The only notable negative performance was that of Josh Donaldson, who lost his bat striking out, lowering his average to .179 this spring. At some point, the conversation must be had regarding Donaldson being more of a liability than a solution, which would suggest LeMahieu starts at third base over the $25 million dollar veteran.

The Yankees will take on the Detroit Tigers on Tuesday afternoon at 1:05 PM, enjoying a day off on Monday. They have nine games left of spring training until a Thursday afternoon matinee against the Giants to open the 2023 season.