The Staten Island Yankees and Lowell (Red Sox) Spinners decided to save the best for last with a nail-biting finish in the bottom of the 9th inning and the Yankees pulling out a 2-1 series opening win. After a somewhat lackluster eight innings of baseball, Yankees reliever David Palladino made things interesting in the bottom of the ninth but managed to wiggle out of a one out bases loaded jam to preserve the victory. Yankees starter Simon De La Rosa pitched five innings for the win but struggled with deep counts throughout the game.
The first three innings were relatively quiet, with both teams trading base runners but no one crossing the plate. De La Rosa’s pitch count took an immediate beating in the first inning, caused by an eleven pitch at bat by the Spinner’s number three hitter, Tyler Hill. Hill fouled off five pitches during the at bat, eventually drawing a walk and stealing second before De La Rosa struck out the final batter of the inning. When the bottom of the first finally ended, De La Rosa had already thrown 25 pitches and it appeared certain he was not headed for a long outing. De La Rosa’s fastball consistently stayed at 91 MPH and he was able to jump it up to 94 MPH on a couple of occasions. He chose to rely heavily on the fastball, moving it in and out to hitters without a lot of hard contact.
First baseman Kane Sweeney led off the top of the second inning with a laser beam down the first base line but Lowell RF Chris Madera got a great jump on the ball and fired a BB of his own to second base to get Sweeney easily. De La Rosa’s command suffered again in the bottom of the second, including another two out walk and stolen base before another inning ending strike out. De La Rosa threw another twenty-one pitches in the second, although the Lowell batters never really hit the ball hard. De La Rosa touched 94 MPH a couple of times during the 2nd along with a nice 83 MPH breaking ball for a strike.
In the top of the third inning, Dalton Blaser pulled a hard line drive single to right but a fly out and a ground ball double play by Carlos Vazquez ended the inning. In the bottom of the inning Lowell’s only real scoring chance against De La Rosa came with a two out right center field gap triple, but De La Rosa showed a nice 79 MPH breaking pitch for strike two and a 92 MPH fastball for the K to end the inning and the threat. Kane Sweeney hit another hard line drive single to right with two outs in the top of the fourth but was left stranded and De La Rosa had a 1-2-3 bottom of the inning while still having to throw 17 pitches.
De la Rosa’s best inning came in the bottom of the fifth with two strikeouts on thirteen pitches. He finished the night with 92 pitches, five strikeouts, two walks and only one hit allowed. Josh Roeder pitched a relatively quiet sixth, seventh and eight innings and Staten Island broke through in the top of the sixth with a hard Carlos Vazquez double to left and an equally hard single to right by Don Thompson-Williams to score Vazquex. Nick Solak also hit a screaming line drive that was caught to end the inning and Staten Island up 1-0. The first real buzz in the game came in the top of the 7th when Boston pitcher Joe Kelly entered for his final rehab outing and proceeded to light up the stadium radar gun at 98 MPH. Kelly came back out for the top of the eight and struck out Kendall Coleman on 101 MPH fastball followed by an 88 MPH change up and a swinging strikeout.
The Yankees pushed across another run in the top of the ninth with a Ferreira walk and stolen base, Thomspon-Williams beating out a fielder’s choice and a Nick Solak GIDP to score Ferreira. At this point 2-0 looked like an easy win but David Palladino made things interesting due mostly to his lack of command.
Palladino came in throwing 95 MPH but walked the leadoff hitter and then allowed an RBI double. Another walk made it first and second with no outs but a pop out to Sweeney on a sacrifice attempt got Palladino his first out. A beat out of a fielder’s choice ground ball loaded the bases with only one out but a hard shot back to Palladino led to a force out at home. Palladino then found the strike zone and struck out the last batter on 4 pitches.