TAMPA — Big Mike brought his dominant stuff to the mound on Wednesday night.
Facing the Phillies’ regulars, Michael Pineda threw five perfect innings and struck out eight in the Yankees’ 3-1 exhibition win.
“He’s had better games, but in this spring training I would say today was the best I’ve seen of him,” Gary Sanchez said of Pineda through a translator. “And the first time he was out there (against the Tigers), he was pretty good too.”
Pineda’s fastball was blazing, the bottom was dropping out of his slider and his changeup was working too.
At one point, the 28-year-old righty struck out four in a row — including all three hitters he faced in the third inning.
Pineda threw 53 pitches, 37 for strikes. Joe Girardi was originally going to pitch him four innings, but Pineda’s pitch count was so low that the manager kept him out there for another. He didn’t even reach his 60-pitch limit.
In his first two starts of the spring, Pineda had gone a combined five innings, allowing two runs on four hits while striking out six.
Last season, Pineda went 6-12 with a 4.82 ERA and 27 homers allowed in 175.2 innings. He struck out 207 and walked 53, but struggled to finish off hitters and innings. Loss of focus was admittedly an issue.
“We really believe in Michael. I just think that last year some of it was he couldn’t finish innings and then he had some bad luck at times,” Girardi said. “But I think this guy’s really big for us this year, he really is.”
You never know what you’re going to get with Pineda. But what he gave the Yankees on Wednesday night makes you understand why so many people are high on him if he can ever manage to figure it out on a consistent basis.
“I had great command,” Pineda said. “All my pitches were working really well and that’s what I’m looking for.”
Backup catcher Austin Romine came out of the game after getting struck in the right hand by a wild pitch from Chad Green in the seventh inning. Kyle Higashioka replaced Romine. Precautionary X-rays on Romine were negative.
Published at Thu, 16 Mar 2017 01:50:10 +0000