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Offense good, defense bad, Yankees lose

2/26/2014

BRADENTON, Fla. -- The law firm of Ellsbury, Beltran and McCann did its job today, namely create baserunners and drive them in, and a newcomer named Yangervis Solarte did Eduardo Nunez's job today, and did it better with a a long two-run home run and a sparkling play in the field.

But even though that quartet helped the Yankees out up four runs in the first two innings against the Pittsburgh Pirates and their starter, Francisco Liriano, it turned out not to be enough as a Solarte error gave back one run, a home run by Tony Sanchez off reliever Chase Whitley accounted for three more, and a throwing error by Addison Maruszak, added to the roster this morning when Nunez showed up too sick to play, helped the Pirates score the winning run in a 6-5 victory at McKechnie Field.

Ivan Nova threw the first 36 pitches for the Yankees, leaving with one out and two on in the second. He wound up being charged with two runs after Bruce Billings allowed both of his runners to score. Nova allowed two hits, two walks and two runs in his 1-1/3 innings of work.

But the silver lining for the Yankees was the rebuilt batting order, which for the first time this spring showcased the Big 3 of their non-pitching free-agent acquisitions, Jacoby Ellsbury, Carlos Beltran and Brian McCann, to whom the Yankees committed $285 million this winter.

And it looked like money well-spent when Ellsbury led off the game by drawing the first of his two walks -- he singled in his third at-bat -- moved to third on a single by Solarte, and scored when McCann singled sharply into the left-center gap. McCann, too, scored when Ramon Flores, who homered on Tuesday against Florida St. delivered an RBI single. The Yankees added two more on Solarte's HR in the second following Ellsbury's second walk. But they didn't score again until Mason Williams doubled in a run in the seventh, and in the meantime, the Pirates gradually chipped away.

Still, Joe Girardi liked what he saw from his revamped lineup. "You think about how you have the ability to score a lot more runs this year," he said. "And that’s why we went and got em."

For Ellsbury, his first game in pinstripes -- well, actually road grays -- went exactly, he said, as most of his early spring training games with the Red Sox had. "Typically for the most part I like to see as many pitches as I can in spring training but you still want to be aggressive in the zone, so there’s that fine line," he said. "I think it worked out great. Getting on base, and having these type of hitters hitting behind you, that’s one big reason to sign over here."

Seven years at $153 million is another, of course. McCann came over for a mere five years and $85 million, but drew rave reviews from Nova, who was throwing to him for the first time. "He's a great catcher, man," Nova said. "He gave me a good low target, I like that. I saw him block a couple of pitches. He hit a line drive that I was surprised. He got a really good bat. I really like him."

Good times, bad times: Ellsbury got on base all three times and scored twice ... McCann struck out in his only other at-bat ... Beltran went 0-for-3 (foulout, strikeout, groundout) ... Dean Anna and Flores were Yankees besides Solarte, Ellsbury, McCann and Williams to get hits, and Flores' was an RBI single ... Dellin Betances pitched two innigs of one-hit, two-strikeout ball ... RHP Jose Ramirez, who was given an outside shot to make the team, warmed up in the seventh but instead of getting into the game headed to the trainer's room after his back locked up.