Castro's HR makes Gardner's debut a winner

Castro's HR makes Gardner's debut a winner

TAMPA, Fla. -- Starlin Castro hit his first home run in pinstripes on Wednesday, and the Yankees defeated the Blue Jays, 2-1, in Grapefruit League action at George M. Steinbrenner Field.

Acquired from the Cubs this past offseason, Castro has been settling in nicely to his new role as a full-time second baseman. The three-time All-Star connected to right-center in the second inning off right-hander Drew Hutchison.

"I think our ballpark suits [Castro] well," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "He has the ability to hit the other way. He's a lot bigger than I thought he was, seeing him play on TV all the time."

Yankees starter Nathan Eovaldi was scheduled to throw three innings but completed just two after reaching his allotted pitch count (46 pitches, 27 of them strikes). He did not permit a run or a hit, walking two and striking out two, and said he needs to be more economical.

"With it being Spring Training, I'm just trying to work on my command and offspeed pitches," Eovaldi said. "Today I was able to establish the split a little bit more. I threw too many chase pitches as opposed to strike pitches."

Competing for the final spot in the Blue Jays' rotation, Hutchison permitted four hits in 4 2/3 innings, walking none and striking out three. He threw 63 pitches, 43 for strikes.

"I thought it was good," Hutchison said of his outing. "I thought I made a lot of good pitches, [catcher] Russ [Martin] and I were on the same page, he did a great job back there as always. I had some good sliders, good changeups, I was able to mix in everything. I thought it was another positive step."

The Blue Jays made it interesting in the eighth, pulling within one run on Roemon Fields' RBI double. They threatened again in the ninth, when Dalton Pompey hit a one-out triple, but Yanks reliever Kirby Yates worked out of trouble for the save.

In his spring debut, Yankees left fielder Brett Gardner played five innings, going 0-for-2.

Up next for the Blue Jays: The Blue Jays play a pair of split-squad games on Thursday afternoon, with one group of players traveling to Kissimmee for a matchup against the Astros while others stay behind for an exhibition game against the Canadian Junior Team. Veteran right-hander Brad Penny will start vs. Houston at 1:05 p.m. ET at Osceola County Stadium, while Canadian lefty Scott Diamond will start against the juniors. Toronto has yet to reveal the travel roster, but most regulars are expected to stay behind for the game against Canada, which has become an annual tradition in Spring Training.

Up next for the Yankees: Right-hander Masahiro Tanaka will make his third spring start on Thursday, hoping to extend a string of five scoreless innings as the Yankees visit the Pirates in Bradenton, Fla. Tanaka last pitched on Friday, against the Orioles, striking out three around a hit in three frames. Left-hander Jeff Locke will start for Pittsburgh. First pitch is scheduled for 1:05 p.m. ET.

Bryan Hoch is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch, on Facebook and read his MLBlog, Bombers Beat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.