One day after Michael Pineda returned to the mound from shoulder surgery, Manny Banuelos made his return from Tommy John surgery. The results were mixed on the scoreboard, but the performance on the mound was encouraging to both the pitcher and some scouts.
The game started off with Ivan Nova getting hit hard by the Astros’ Dexter Fowler(line drive single), Jose Altuve(line drive single), Jason Castro(fly ball double), Chris Carter(lineout), and Marc Krauss(line drive single). Thanks to a strikeout and caught stealing, Nova ended the disastrous 1st inning, but the second inning wasn’t much better. Nova again gave up singles to L.J. Hoes and Cesar Izturis before getting into a rhythm. The right-handed pitcher lacked command, but redeemed himself with a handful of strikeouts and ground balls in his final two innings of work.
Meanwhile, the Yankees offense took advantage of fielding mistakes and errors all game long. Mason Williams had a nice game, reaching base on a walk, earning an RBI on a sacrifice fly, and hitting an RBI double in the 2nd inning, missing a home run by just a couple of feet. Mark Teixeira reached base on a walk and also doubled, which was followed by a Kelly Johnson home run. Other offensive contributions came from Austin Romine (2 for 2, 2 singles), Dean Anna (2 for 2, 2 singles), and even Yangervis Solarte earned another hit in 1 of his 2 at bats.
After Nova finished his 4.0 innings of work, Banuelos took the mound for the first time in nearly 2 years. The left-hander immediately gave up a ground ball double down the left-field line, which would likely have been a ground out if the third baseman wasn’t playing in for the bunt. The left-hander then walked Jason Castros after working the count from 3-0 back to 3-2. Chris Carter took advantage of Banuelos by homering and driving in all 3 runs before Banuelos could even earn an out. Thereafter, Banuelos looked much more impressive, striking out George Springer and earning a ground out from Jesus Guzman. After throwing 19 pitches, Girardi pulled the southpaw.
Scouts had Banuelos throwing throwing 92-94 mph, though the Yankees told him that he hit 93. After the game, he was happy with his performance and said, “Being the first time after surgery and for two years, that’s awesome for me.” Hopefully we get to see a lot more of Banuelos this spring.