We are in Yankee Stadium. It’s a beautiful spring day, 68° with a slight breeze. People are ready to watch some baseball.
Vin Mazzaro will be making his debut for the visiting Kansas City Royals, but in a way Vin doesn’t feel like a visitor at all. He grew up in nearby Hackensack, NJ, just half an hour away from Yankee Stadium, and he grew up rooting for these Yankees. Today, he will face the players he grew up watching.
Vin’s mound opponent is the veteran AJ Burnett. AJ makes quick work of the Royals’ first three batters in the top of the first, striking out two of them and getting the third to ground out.
Now it’s Vin’s turn. He’ll face the Yankees’ shortstop, Derek Jeter, to start. Vin played shortstop himself in high school when he wasn’t pitching. Vin was 8 when Jeter made his Major League debut with the Yankees.
Vin gets Jeter to ground out. Curtis Granderson is the next batter and walks on a close pitch.
Mark Texiera steps to the plate. Granderson steals second on the 2-1 pitch, but Texiera ends up walking as well.
Pitching coach Bob McClure comes out to talk to his young pitcher. They chat a bit, Vin nods, and now he’ll face Alex Rodriguez. A double play by Rodriguez ends the inning.
Just like Vin, AJ walks two in the top of the second, but after a talk with his catcher Russell Martin, he leaves them both stranded.
Robinson Cano leads off the bottom of the second and lines a single off Vin into right field.
Vin will now face Nick Swisher. Swisher hits his own line drive to right, and Vin finds himself in some trouble as Jorge Posada comes to bat with two on and no outs. Coming into this at-bat, Posada is 4-for-8 against Vin.
Posada hits a ground ball to the right side, and no one is there! The ball shoots into right field, and Cano comes around to score despite a strong throw home by right fielder Jeff Francoeur.
There are still no outs as Russell Martin steps to the plate. Martin is 5 for his last 27 at-bats and described as a “big double play candidate.” Martin hits a high fly ball to right field, easily caught by Francoeur. It’s not a double play, but at least it’s an out.
Brett Gardner is the next Yankee batter and hits a high fly ball to left field, caught easily by Melky Cabrera.
Now there are two outs as Jeter comes to bat again. Vin falls to a 3-1 count on Jeter. A swinging strike fills the count. A foul ball and we’ll do it again. Vin has thrown 45 pitches already. Another foul ball. Jeter watches a close pitch, and it’s called strike three. Inning over.
The top of third starts with an error by AJ, but after two quick outs, Martin guns down the runner trying to steal second to end the inning.
Vin takes the mound for another inning with Granderson, Texiera, and Rodriguez due up. Vin appears as calm and cool as ever.
After fouling off a few pitches, Granderson sends a 2-2 pitch over the wall in center field for his league-leading 12th homerun and a 2-0 Yankees lead.
Texiera walks, as Vin is perhaps wary of putting another pitch too close to the strike zone.
However, he starts off Rodriguez with an 0-2 count. Rodriguez fouls off Vin’s 61st and 62nd pitchers of the game. Rodriguez hits a high bouncer. Third baseman Wilson Betemit has no play by the time he gets the ball, and it’s an infield single. Vin finds himself in trouble again.
Cano is the next batter and hits a hard line drive to left field but right at Cabrera. A lucky out for Vin.
Swisher steps to the plate. Vin starts him off with a called strike and then a swinging strike. The third pitch just misses. Swisher gets the call in his favor. The count goes full before Swisher pops out to Chris Getz.
Posada comes to bat. Surely a .155 hitter wouldn’t have a multi-hit game? Posada works another 0-2 count full. Vin’s 77th pitch of the game is ball four.
The pitching coach comes out to chat, and Vin prepares to face Russell Martin. Martin hits the 0-1 pitch on the ground to shortstop Alcides Escobar, who throws on to second for the inning-ending forceout.
Eric Hosmer leads off the top of the fourth with his first Major League homerun, giving the Royals their first run of the game. AJ gets three quick outs after that, but all of them are fly balls, two of them considerably deep.
At 79 pitches, Vin comes out again to start the fourth. Gardner leads off for the Yankees. He bunts down the third baseline and reaches first base safely.
Jeter comes to the plate. He shows bunt on the first two pitches from Vin, both balls, before watching watching a strike.
Gardner takes off on the 2-1 pitch and is caught stealing second. Vin catches another break.
Jeter then grounds out to the shortstop, and there are two outs as Granderson steps to the plate.
Granderson strikes out on two check swings, and Vin is through four innings.
The Royals end up winning the game in 11 innings on an Eric Hosmer sacrifice fly, leaving Vin with a no-decision in his Royals debut. He gave up just 2 runs in his short outing on 4 hits while walking 4 and striking out 2. He needed 94 pitches to get through those 4 innings, however. Hopefully in his next start he can learn to be a bit more efficient with his pitch count.