Andy Pettitte beats Reds with eight scoreless innings

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It didn’t take Andy Pettitte long to find his mojo. He struck out nine in eight scoreless innings Friday as the Yankees beat the Reds 4-0 in the second start of his comeback.

The Reds’ dysfunctional offense was no better tonight with designated hitter Ryan Ludwick batting in Bronson Arroyo’s place. Manager Dusty Baker’s switch putting Zack Cozart in the leadoff spot last month has produced disastrous results, yet he remains too stubborn to try something new. Cozart went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts tonight. The top five hitters in the Cincinnati lineup were a combined 1-for-15 with 10 strikeouts.

Pettitte excelled from the start tonight, just as he did five days ago against the Mariners. This time, he was able to keep it going through the middle innings. All four hits he allowed were singles, and he struck out just one. Unfortunately, the strikeouts did add to his pitch count, and at 115 pitches after eight, he wasn’t given the chance to go for his first shutout (or complete game of any type) since 2006. It was the first time since July 8, 2008 against the Rays that he finished an outing with eight scoreless innings.

Pettitte is expected to face the Royals next Wednesday in his third start back. Just like the first two, it will come at home in Yankee Stadium.

Video: Angels use eight pitchers in spring training no-hitter

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Who says no-hitters can’t be just as fun when they happen during spring training?

Angels’ right-hander Bud Norris delivered two perfect innings on Friday night, paving the way for an eight-pitcher no-hitter against the Mariners at Tempe Diablo Stadium. Jose Alvarez, Cam Bedrosian, Andrew Bailey, Austin Adams, Drew Gagnon and Justin Anderson each filed a hitless inning of their own, leaving right-hander Abel De Los Santos to close out the ninth inning with just three pitches — and three game-saving plays by the defense.

Of course, it didn’t hurt that the Angels were facing a bevy of Mariners’ backups, rather than their starting lineup. In fact, Seattle’s lineup featured just two starting players — outfielder Leonys Martin and shortstop Jean Segura — while the majority of their everyday position players took on the Royals in a 4-3 win elsewhere in the Cactus League. The Mariners managed to reach base twice, first on catcher interference in the fourth inning, then on a four-pitch walk in the sixth, spoiling the Angels’ chances of turning their combined no-hitter into a combined perfect game.

Still, whether it’s executed in spring training or the regular season, against an All-Star lineup or one comprised of minor leaguers, a no-hitter is a no-hitter. The team’s eight-pitcher effort marked the first spring training no-no the Angels had completed since 1996, when they took on the Giants in a 15-0 showdown. Unfortunately for the 1996 squad, their regular season ended with a 70-91 record, good for last place in the AL West. Perhaps this no-hitter will prove a better omen for the coming season.

Tanner Scheppers leaves Cactus League game with lower core injury

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Rangers’ bullpen candidate Tanner Scheppers left Friday’s Cactus League game with pain in his “lower half,” according to reports by Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News. The specifics of the right-hander’s injury have yet to be determined, but he was accompanied by the athletic trainer when he exited the game and is scheduled to undergo an MRI on Saturday.

Scheppers, 30, has a long history of elbow and knee injuries. He missed all but 8 2/3 innings of the 2016 season after undergoing a procedure to repair torn articular cartilage in his left knee. While he appeared healthy enough through his first seven appearances this spring, he failed to impress with three runs, five walks and six strikeouts over 7 2/3 innings with the club.

Should Scheppers find himself on the disabled list for another lengthy stay, MLB.com’s T.R. Sullivan speculates that his absence could clear some room in the bullpen for Rule 5 draft pick and fellow righty Mike Hauschild. Hauschild, 27, has dealt seven runs, five walks and 15 strikeouts through 17 1/3 innings in camp.