Spring Games 19 & 20: NYY vs. BAL & NYY vs. MIA — Losing internationally is almost an art

The Yankees didn’t see much success anywhere in the world today. On American soil, the Yankees played a standard game of baseball, with the Orioles barely eked out a victory at their Spring home in Sarasota. And in Panama, the Yankees fell to the Marlins’ strong pitching, giving them a no-hitter. One loss counts for Spring stats, one loss counts only for morale, and really neither one matters in the long-run. But that’s a whole ‘nother story.

In sunny Florida, Vidal Nuno took the mound for the Yankees, giving the Orioles 4 pretty tight innings, allowing just one hit and one walk and striking out 3 batters. Nuno was pretty flawless today, but the Yankee bats just weren’t backing him up. So Danny Burawa took the mound in the 5th, coming back for the 6th. Burawa was under the gun, as it were, as the Yankees struck first with Francisco Arcia’s lead-off solo home run in the 6th.

But when the Orioles tied it up with their own solo home run, Mark Montgomery came on for that last out of the inning. Montgomery then came back for the 7th and promptly gave up a double and a sacrifice fly that scored the second Orioles’ run. Brian Gordon came onto the 8th, keeping the Orioles from adding to their total. But it wasn’t enough. The Yankees were hitting, but they weren’t crossing the plate, and the Yankees lost 2-1. And somehow, the game in Sarasota still felt like your standard ball game.

Down in Panama, the Yankees spent last night at a fundraising dinner for host Mariano Rivera’s charity of choice, a local children’s hospital a handful of players visited yesterday, giving out toys and spending time with the sick children. Today, some of the team ran a baseball clinic for the local kids. At several brief press conferences, everyone expressed their excitement and honor to be participating in the Legends Series against the Marlins. And the only broadcast was a spotty online live stream from a local Panama City station that put my minimal Spanish vocabulary to the test. Fortunately, baseball is multi-lingual.

Rivera donning his old jersey (worn over normal clothes) came to the pitcher’s mound from the center field bullpen to his old walk-out music “Enter Sandman”. He greeted the fans and his teammates and the Marlins, welcoming everyone to tonight’s game and his home country, before throwing out the first pitch to his assumed successor David Robertson. The act was not lost on Rivera, as he even called it a “passing of the torch” of sorts.

And then it was “play ball”.

Adam Warren took the start of tonight’s exhibition, And through the first 3 innings, he proved why he’s still a contender for that 5th starting position. But he got into a bit of trouble in the 4th inning, giving up a single that progressed and scored on a wild pitch. Warren grabbed the first out and a single in the 5th before being replaced. Overall, Warren pitched 4.1 innings, giving up 2 hits and a run, and striking out 6 Marlins batters.

Chase Whitley grabbed the last 2 outs of the 5th with a lucky double play (that great infield in action, once again) and came out for the 6th, only to get into his own set of problems. He walked his lead-off batter and allowed back-to-back singles to drive in a run. He was then pulled for Daley who also lucked out with another great double play to end that inning. Daley continued into the 7th, setting down the Marlins in order.

It was Robert Coello’s job to pitch the 8th, but that didn’t work out so well either. He promptly gave up a single and 2 walks to load the bases. Girardi pulled him for Tateyama, but Coello would be responsible for all of those runners. A sacrifice fly scores a runner. A single scores another, though it was credited to a fielding error (and thus let Coello off the hook for the run). Another single scored the 3rd run for the Marlins that inning and their 5th overall. Miller took the 9th, keeping the Marlins from adding to their total, but the Yankees still lost 5-0.

And the Yankees must have left their offense stateside. Not one got a hit at all, and only two got on base with a walk. A Marlins pitcher did win Rookie of the Year last year, and believe me, it was well-deserved. But he didn’t pitch tonight, and perhaps he was only the tip of the iceberg for the Marlins’ pitching staff. Or perhaps (and more likely), the Yankees were having an off-night. Fortunately, there’s another game tomorrow. And like I said before, none of it really counts. Maybe that’s simply a pacifier on a particularly rough day, but there’s a reason babies love their pacifiers — they soothe a wounded spirit and tide you over until the next task. I’ll stick with my pacifier; you can have your “reality”.

Go Yankees!

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