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Domingo German's first nine innings: Zero runs allowed, 13 strikeouts

Yankees pitcher Domingo German against the Philadelphia Phillies

Yankees pitcher Domingo German against the Philadelphia Phillies in a spring training game in Tampa, Fla., on March 15, 2021. Credit: AP/Gene J. Puskar

TAMPA, Fla. — Domingo German continued his strong bid to open the season in the rotation by throwing four shutout innings in the Yankees’ 4-2 victory over the Phillies on Monday at Steinbrenner Field.

German, who is coming back from an 81-game suspension for violating MLB’s domestic violence policy, has not allowed a run and has struck out 13 in nine innings in three outings.

On Monday, German gave up three hits and his first walk of spring training. He struck out six.

German is battling Deivi Garcia for the No. 5 rotation spot. Garcia has a 2.25 ERA in three starts. It’s hard to do much better than that, but German has.

"He’s in a really good place right now," manager Aaron Boone said during an in-game interview with YES. "I mean, looks incredibly polished right now."

When he came to spring training, German had to start mending fences with his teammates after his suspension. Teammates such as Zack Britton made it clear that German had a lot to prove off the mound before he would be fully accepted back into the group.

German was an 18-game winner in 2019 before he was placed on administrative leave by MLB on Sept. 27 of that year while it investigated his actions in an incident involving his girlfriend. He hasn’t pitched in a regular-season game since then.

German, 28, still has a promising enough arm that Yankees players and management are intrigued to see what he can do after so much time away from the game.

"Domingo, I feel like he’s picking up right where he left off in ‘19," Aaron Judge said. "The breaking pitches are sharp. He’s got command of the zone. He’s pounding it with his fastball — good velocity with the fastball. I’m excited to see what he does this year because he’s a big, big part of this team that we’ve been missing."

Said Boone: "He’s been so sharp. You’ve just to finish up the outing with ‘he can really pitch.’ Velo was really strong today. I think he was up to 96 and 97 at times with all that movement. Command’s been great, and then the feel of the secondary pitch. Able to spin it. I don’t think he spun it overall as well as he has all spring, but really finished with some good ones."

German worked out of trouble in the first that was not all of his own making. Gleyber Torres bobbled a potential double-play grounder and was able to get only the first out of the inning on a forceout at second.

After Didi Gregorius hit a long fly to center for the second out, German walked Jean Segura but struck out Odubel Herrera on a down-and-in slider to end the inning.

In the second, Roman Quinn hit a two-out double, but German struck out Jeff Mathis. He retired the top of the Phillies’ lineup in order with two strikeouts in the third and got some help from Torres after a leadoff single by Segura in the fourth.

Herrera hit a grounder to Jay Bruce, an outfielder who is trying to show he can play first base in a bid to make the club. Bruce stepped on first and threw a one-hopper to Torres at second, but Torres caught it and slapped the tag on Segura to complete the double play.

German ended his day by getting Scott Kingery looking at a 3-and-2 changeup.

After the outing, German was asked if he sees himself as an ace, given that he is pitching like one in spring training.

"No," he said through an interpreter. "I see myself as a normal baseball player. I just want to keep doing my job and win a spot in the rotation. Doesn’t matter which one it is."

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