TAMPA, Fla. (AP) - Kyle Weiland made a good first impression with his new boss.
Weiland threw four hitless innings Monday night as the Houston Astros beat the New York Yankees 4-3.
With new Astros owner Jim Crane in attendance at his first spring training game, Weiland induced nine ground-ball outs. He worked out of a two-on, two-outs jam in the third by coaxing Curtis Granderson into a grounder.
``The first couple throws I knew my arm felt good,' said Weiland, who threw 49 pitches. ``The big challenge was going to be monitoring my effort level because when your arm feels that good, a lot of times you tend to get the ball up a lot. My main focus early on was let them put the ball in play and let my sinker work.'
Competing for a rotation spot, Weiland struck out one, walked one and hit a batter. The right-hander was acquired from Boston in December.
New York starter Hiroki Kuroda allowed two hits in three scoreless innings. Nick Swisher had an RBI triple.
Astros closer Brett Myers, last year's opening-day starter, gave up one run and one hit in the fifth. He has allowed at least one run in all four of his appearances this spring training.
George Springer had a run-scoring double and scored on Scott Moore's RBI grounder that put the Astros up 4-2 in the ninth. J.R. Murphy drove in a run with a single in the bottom of the inning.
Attention already was turning before the game to Tuesday night and the Yankees' first meeting of the year with the Red Sox.
``I'm sure there will be a different excitement level in the stands,' Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. ``I'm not so sure our players will be too caught up in it because I try to tell them to not get too caught up during the season. They've got to go out and play.'
Girardi has been starting only half his veterans in the early spring training games. Boston was planning to bring only a few regulars, including Jacoby Ellsbury, Dustin Pedroia and Jarrod Saltalamacchia. The Red Sox were scheduled to start Felix Doubront and the Yankees were going with Ivan Nova.
``I don't want guys going out and doing something crazy, so they miss six weeks of the season,' Girardi said. ``I don't particularly want Jete jumping into the stands headfirst' - a reference to Derek Jeter's 2004 catch of Trot Nixon's popup.
While the Yankees won the AL East with a 97-65 record last year, Boston became the first team to miss the postseason after leading by as many as nine games for a playoff spot entering September. In the fallout, Bobby Valentine replaced Terry Francona as Red Sox manager.
Valentine created a stir last month when he said Jeter didn't need to make the flip-to-home relay against Oakland in the 2001 playoffs and fondly recalled when retired Red Sox catcher Jason Varitek ``beat up Alex' Rodriguez in 2004.
``I worry about our club. I worry about my present-day club,' Girardi said. ``I'm not worried about three years ago, or a year ago, 10 years ago. I worry about now, tomorrow, today.'
Girardi said he might hold back newcomers Michael Pineda and Kuroda from facing the Red Sox during spring training since they like will start against Boston several times during the season.
As for Monday, Houston loaded the bases with two outs in the third, but failed to score when Kuroda struck out Brian Bogusevic.
``There's not that many games that I threw in the past that I felt really good about (all) my pitches,' Kuroda said through a translator. ``I always have to make adjustments.'
Kuroda had two strikeouts and two walks.
``I thought he was off a little bit. I didn't think he was as consistent in the strike zone where he wanted to be,' Girardi said. ``He wasn't quite as sharp as the last time command-wise.'
Houston reliever Brandon Lyon, coming back from surgery on his right biceps tendon and labrum, gave up one run and two hits over one inning.
Astros right-hander Bud Norris did not make the trip and instead threw four innings in a simulated game at the Astros complex.
``He's been working on some of his secondary pitches and he looked very good throwing those,' Astros manager Brad Mills said.
Humberto Quintero, sidelined by a lower back injury, caught Norris and also hit off a tee. Justin Ruggiano and Travis Buck, both out with oblique injuries, hit against Norris.
Houston right-hander Aneury Rodriguez also threw four innings in a simulated game.
NOTES: Yankees RHP David Robertson stopped using a protective boot and crutches, and he played catch for the first time since hurting his right foot in a tumble at home last week. He is confident he will be ready for the April 6 opener at Tampa Bay. He threw for about five minutes. ... New York RHP Joba Chamberlain (elbow ligament replacement surgery) continues to increase his rehabilitation program, throwing eight sliders to a catcher positioned on the plate after a 30-pitch fastball mound session. Chamberlain will add sliders to his regular bullpen sessions on Friday. ... RHP Wilton Lopez will be out a couple days due to forearm tightness. Mills said the problem is not serious. ... Former Yankees CF Bernie Williams was at the game.
The Associated Press News Service
The Associated Press
All Rights Reserved