Cano, Almonte go deep as Yankees win opener
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Robinson Cano and Zoilo Almonte both homered while helping the Yankees begin the Grapefruit League season with an 8-3 win over the Braves at Champion Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
Almonte's two-run home run off Jordan Walden highlighted a decisive four-run third inning that was aided by two errors, a wild pitch and a passed ball. Braves third baseman Chris Johnson's inability to catch a routine pop fly in front of the plate provided the spark for the Yankees, who saw Eduardo Nunez double and score in the inning.
After reaching via errors in his first two plate appearances, Cano padded the Yankees' lead with an opposite-field home run off Yohan Flande in the fifth inning.
Acquired from the Cubs midway through last season, Paul Maholm started for the Braves and worked two no-hit innings. The left-hander allowed a baserunner in the first inning when Cano reached on an error by first baseman Freddie Freeman, but Mark Teixeira followed by grounding into an inning-ending double play.
Evan Gattis brought the Braves to within two runs with the two-run homer that he lined over the left-field wall against Mikey O'Brien in the sixth inning. But the Yankees regained a commanding lead with a three-run seventh inning.
Gattis, who is bidding to win one of Atlanta's final bench spots, also added a double that put Dan Uggla in position to score with Brett Marshall on the mound in the bottom of the fourth inning.
Yankees up next: The Yankees are set for their home opener on Sunday at George M. Steinbrenner Field, welcoming the Toronto Blue Jays to camp for a 1:05 p.m. ET game that will air on MLB.TV and Gameday Audio. New acquisitions Kevin Youkilis and Travis Hafner are likely to make their Yankees spring debuts. Right-hander Adam Warren, who was 7-8 with a 3.71 ERA in 26 starts last season at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, gets the starting nod for New York. Left-hander J.A. Happ counters for Toronto.