Location: Yankee Stadium, Bronx, New York
Overall Record: 6-3
Series MVP: Phil Hughes
Honorable Mention: Andy Pettitte, Derek Jeter, Robinson Cano
Quote of the Series: comes from Angels DH Hideki Matsui, who made his return to the Bronx for the first time as an opposing player
"I know they're missing one Japanese player from the team," Matsui said, "but they're still a tough team and tougher than ever."The Yankees played their first series in the Bronx since defeating the Philadelphia Phillies in the World Series since November. Championship rings were handed out to the players and staff. Longtime Yankee trainer Gene Monohan made his first visit with the team this year to receive his ring. Monohan has been out all season and spring training while battling throat and neck cancer. He received a warm reception from both the crowd and the players. Manager Joe Girardi even fought to hold back tears. As mentioned in a previous post, Matsui received the loudest cheers out of anyone thanks to his MVP performance in the fall classic. After the pre-game festivities ended, the Yankees continued their winning ways by defeating the Angels 7-5 in game one.
Game two was a different story for the Bombers, who lost 5-3. Javier Vazquez made his second start of the spring but first in New York since giving up Johnny Damon's epic grand slam in the 2004 ALCS. Needless to say, Javy was not greeted all too kindly by the crowd. Vazquez pitched better then in his season debut but was still suffering from a lack of command. He gave up 4 earned runs in 5 1/3 innings. He greatly improved from his disastrous debut when he gave up eight runs to Tampa. The story was more of the Yankees lack of offense then how Vazquez pitched. The offense was shut out by Angels starting pitcher Joel Pineiro who held them to two runs.
On Jackie Robinson Day (every player wore number 42 as seen in the picture above) the rubber match of the series was surrounded by one question prior to first pitch. How was Phil Hughes going to pitch in his debut? The answer you might ask? OUTSTANDING. Hughes beat out Joba Chamberlain in the spring for the fifth starter role. This was the first start that Hughes has made all spring. A major reason Hughes beat out Chamberlain this spring was due to the fact that he had developed a change-up over the winter. The ironic thing is Hughes only used that pitch about 5 times during Thursday's game because the Angels hit the change-up so well. He allowed two earned runs (one of those coming off a Matsui bomb), three hits and had six strikeouts. Quite an impressive season debut if you ask me. The offense of the night was helped by a Robinson Cano home run and double. Derek Jeter also had his second home run of the series and season.
Up Next: The Yankees take on the Texas Rangers in the Bronx.