TAMPA, Fla. -- The Yankees lost to the Baltimore Orioles, 10-7, their fourth defeat in five spring games, and this one was a raggedy, Bad News Bears caliber performance marred by a starting pitcher (Nik Turley) who gave up five runs before he got his one and only out, and a field that committed five errors. Still, the kids made it interesting with a ninth-inning rally that fell short when Adonis Garcia, batting with the bases loaded and a chance to win the game, grounded out to end it after three hours and 26 minutes.
Afterward, Joe Girardi was surprisingly upbeat, all things considered:
1. THE NERVE OF IT ALL: Girardi ascribed the shaky performance of Turley, as well as the ragged play of his infield (the culprits were Turley, Jayson Nix, Walter Ibarra, Jose Pirela and Corban Joseph, who made a spectacularly wild throw form third base into the seats beyond the Yankee dugout) to big-game jitters. "It was pretty sloppy," he said. "We got a lot of young kids playing and they're going to battle some nerves out there. They haven’t had a whole lot of games on YES."
2. PITCHERS YOU HAVE HEARD OF: Beginning Thursday, when David Phelps starts against the Blue Jays at home, the Yankees will begin sending out pitchers who will actually be in their starting rotation this season. Friday, Hiroki Kuroda makes his first spring start at home against Phillies, and Saturday, it will be Ivan Nova facing the Tigers, also at home. No scheduled starts yet for CC Sabathia or Andy Pettitte, but Pettitte is slated to throw a simulated game Sunday morning before the team leaves for Ft. Myers to play the Red Sox.
3. NO YOUK: Kevin Youkilis is still on the slow track back to action after suffering some minor soreness in his left oblique on Monday. Girardi said he won't play on Thursday and maybe not on Friday, but probably on Saturday. And no, Youk will not be making the trip to Ft. Myers to play against his old team on Sunday.
4. MANAGER TONY: The Yankees are sending a split squad to Kissimmee tomorrow to play the Astros, but Girardi is staying in Tampa to manage the home game. He is sending his bench coach Tony Pena to manage a squad that includes Eduardo Nunez, Jayson Nix, Francisco Cervelli, Austin Romine and Matt Diaz.
5. FEAT OF CLAY: Clay Rapada has apparently finally made it into Girardi's exclusive clubhouse, along with Jeet, Tex, Grandy, Gardy, Boonie, Phelpsy and all the rest of them. Today, Girardi casually dropped in this new nickname, published here for the first time: Rapper.