A Good Bad Day

Bradenton, Fla., March 2, 2019; Pittsburgh 8, Yankees 7 — Righthander Danny Farquhar had another in a series of good days Saturday afternoon, taking the mound in a Spring Training game against major league hitters. The outcome — a five-run Pirates inning that morphed a 3-1 Yankee lead into a 6-3 deficit — wasn’t pretty, but the Yankees struggled gamely to recover from it, right up until the last pitch.

The Yanks had eased to a 3-0 lead off Jordan Lyles, “setting a picket fence” by scoring one in each of the first three frames, with Troy Tulowitzki and Miguel Andujar getting them started with doubles in the first. Despite falling behind Pablo Reyes 3-1 in the bottom of the first, with a double coming on the next pitch, Luis Cessa pitched effectively, though the Pirates did scratch a run off him in the third.

Aided by a double play, Felipe Vazquez blanked the visitors in the fourth, and then Farquhar came on for the bottom half. That he was here at all was a victory, but he was rusty. First baseman Josh Bell led off with a two-base hit, and stayed put when one-time Yank Melky Cabrera lined hard to right, the only out recorded against the first six batters. After two singles and two walks, Aaron Boone replaced Farquhar with promising lefty Steven Tarpley, who did get a key punch out. But following a double steal, Corey Dickerson snuck a bouncer between Greg Bird and the first base bag, with the Yankee first sacker coming into contact with first base ump Bill Welke trying to make the grab. The hit went for a bases-clearing triple, and the Buccos had themselves a five-run inning, And a 6-3 lead.

In the following innings, the Yanks tried to close the gap, but they failed to plate Bird after a fifth-inning double. When Clint Frazier did cross after his two-base hit in the sixth the score narrowed to 6-4. Righties Joe Harvey and David Have held it there, and things were looking up. But Hale just couldn’t close out the seventh, and back-to-back-to-back doubles delivered two killer runs, 8-4 Pirates.

Those add-ons didn’t seem to matter, as the Yanks hit into six outs around an error in the seventh and the eighth. Southpaw Phillip Diel, who pitched brilliantly a few days ago, got two quick outs in the bottom of the eighth when center fielder Jason Martin’s hot comebacker hit him in the back. Diehl was removed immediately, but Martin died on first, and the Bombers came to bat one last time.

When Mark Lipke struck out leading off the ninth, the feeling of futility was evident, but it’s important to remember why this is the best game. Starting with Hoy Jun Park’s grounder through the hole between first and second, the baby Bombers stroked five straight singles, scoring three. Suddenly, the score stood at 8-7 with one down and runners on first and second. Kellin Deglin fouled off three pitches before flying out to left, passing on the baton to former Oakland A’s outfielder Billy Burns. A good glove and speedy runner, Burns never did hit much, and after taking two strikes, he struck out flailing.

This leaves the team with a 3-3-1 record, with the next game scheduled against the Tigers in Tampa tomorrow, with Masahiro Tanaka on the mound. It was a beautiful Saturday in LECOM Park in Bradenton, and more of the same is expected tomorrow. As for Farquhar, getting on the field at all today was an accomplishment in itself. With a little more than 10 months of recovery from an aneurysm he suffered while pitching for the White Sox, one ugly inning decidedly gets a pass.

I’ll be rooting for Farquhar the next time out. But of course I will, I’m a Yankee fan. I’m hoping he has a good good day next time though, not like today, when he had …

A Good Bad Day