Rotation hopeful allows two runs in 3 1/3 innings; duo combines for three blasts, five RBIs
By Jamal Collier and Bill Ladson
VIERA, Fla. -- The Nationals scored three runs in the seventh inning off Kyle Davies to edge the Yankees, 7-6, at Space Coast Stadium on Monday afternoon. Doug Fister started the game and pitched into the fifth inning while contributing to a four-run fourth with a two-run single.
Chris Young and Brian McCann did most of the damage for New York, driving in a combined five runs. Young hit two homers, while McCann hit a two-run blast in support of rotation hopeful Bryan Mitchell, who allowed four hits and two earned runs in 3 1/3 innings.
Young dials up power -- twice: The Yankees outfielder belted his first two homers of the spring, starting with a solo homer to lead off the fifth inning against Fister to tie the game at 4. Young went deep again in the sixth inning, hammering a line drive down the left-field line off right-hander Casey Janssen for a two-run homer that gave the Yankees a 6-4 advantage.
Escobar in form in debut: Nationals second baseman Yunel Escobar played his first game of the spring and showed that he is over his Grade 1 oblique strain. He went 1-for-2 with an infield single and made a great diving play in the third inning. Brett Gardner hit a ground ball to Escobar, who dove to his right to throw out Gardner, but Rob Refsnyder scored on the play.
Prospect Ward gets surprise:Drew Ward received quite the shock when he was told that he was leaving the Minor League side for a day to play with the big league team. He went 1-for-2 with an infield single in the second inning off Mitchell. The Nationals needed an extra player to rest Ian Stewart, who needed the day off. Stewart had played every day since Anthony Rendon went down with an MCL sprain in his left knee. Ward is considered the third baseman of the future. Last year, he played for Class A Hagerstown and hit .269 with 10 home runs and 73 RBIs. The Nationals are expecting his power to develop in a few years.
ON THE INJURY FRONT
Ellsbury setting sights on Opening Day:Jacoby Ellsbury reported improvement in his strained right oblique, and the Yankees' outfielder said his next step will be to resume hitting and throwing. Ellsbury expressed confidence that his name will appear in the New York lineup on Opening Day.
For starters, who's fifth? The candidates for the final spot in the Yankees' rotation might have their final opportunity to impress manager Joe Girardi this week. The Yankees are considering a number of candidates -- including Adam Warren, Chase Whitley and Esmil Rogers, who will start Tuesday against the Tigers. Mitchell also has an outside chance.
The Yankees return home to George Steinbrenner Field to take on the Tigers on Tuesday night at 7:05 p.m. ET, live on MLB.TV. Right-hander Rogers is set to make his fourth Grapefruit League start in what could be his final audition for the fifth-starter spot. Girardi has said he would like to make a decision by the end of the week.