The New York Yankees took on the Pittsburgh Pirates (7-4 win) on Sunday, enjoying their third week of spring training. With Opening Day just a week away, the Yankees offense is in stride while their pitching has lacked grit to start the spring.
Of course, spring training is often used to test new pitches and get into the groove, so we shouldn’t ring the alarm on the starting rotation just yet.
The good news heavily revolves around the Yankees offense, which tallied 11 hits and seven runs on the afternoon. They struck out just seven times compared to 14 from Pittsburgh. However, Aaron Judge provided a master-class performance with his upcoming megadeal impending.
Judge recorded three hits on three at-bats, including three RBIs and two home runs — a two-run shot in the fifth inning to give the Yankees a 7–4 lead.
The big slugger is quickly justifying the contract he’s about to earn, which could land in the top five deals among outfielders in the MLB. After proving his health last season, general manager Brian Cashman took a more conservative approach to free agency this year, likely waiting to see what Judge’s contract would look like.
Aside from Aaron, Josh Donaldson smacked a home run and recorded a walk over two at-bats. In the fourth inning, new acquisition Marwin Gonzalez also hit a homer, driving in Aaron Hicks. Gonzalez is hitting .375 this spring, showcasing his value and why the Yankees inked him to a contract to complete the spring.
Catcher Kyle Higashioka continued his offensive production, recording a hit and RBI, coming from a solo shot in the third inning to bring the Yankees within two runs of Pittsburgh. The Bombers continue to rely on the homerun for most of their offense production, which has been their strategy over the last few seasons.
After Gerrit Cole’s day ended after two innings, Jordan Montgomery came in to strike out five batters over 2.2 innings, allowing just two hits. The relief arms were fantastic in the win, allowing zero hits over the last 3.1 innings of play.
Bad news in spring training can be overlooked for a myriad of reasons, but the Yankees starting pitching has been lackluster across the board. Over two innings of action, Gerrit Cole allowed four hits and three earned runs, including two homers in the first three innings. Cole has had a history of disappointing during spring training, but those numbers are irrelevant at the end of the day.
Cashman must be a bit concerned about the starting rotation and how poor they’ve looked, but the Yankees usually find a way to get things going once the regular season begins.