Spring Game 29: TOR vs. NYY — Win streak snapped

Well, the winning streak is over at 7 games, snapped in today’s loss to Toronto. Today was actually a mix of super hot sunny between very cloudy skies (complete with about 20 seconds of rain sprinkles).

Michael Pineda seems to have had a bit of an off-day, after some rather flawless outings this Spring, but when he was on, he was great. He got into some trouble in the 2nd inning. A throwing error by 3rd baseman Nunez allowed the lead-off runner to get on base and then Pineda allowed back-to-back singles that scored a run. Fortunately, after loading the bases with only one out, the Jeter-Teixeira infield grabbed a slick double play to get Pineda out of the inning. (Have I mentioned today how much I missed those guys last year?)

Then in the 5th, Pineda allowed back-to-back singles, and then on a sacrifice bunt, Pineda’s throwing error (a very high toss to 1st base) scored another Toronto run. A wild pitch scored the third and final Toronto run. And the Blue Jays were up 3-0 going into the 6th inning. Pineda wasn’t going to win today’s game, overall giving up 6 hits and 3 runs (only 2 earned), and getting just 2 strikeouts. A common issue I see with young, eager pitchers is that they don’t trust their infield. We saw it a little with Tanaka yesterday, but he was able to be lifted up by the offense taking advantage of the weakness in the pitching staff. Pineda wasn’t so lucky due to the Blue Jays bringing their stellar pitching staff across the bay to Tampa today.

But the Yankees weren’t without their own set of offensive efforts today. It was only in the 6th that the Yankees finally got on the board. Ichiro Suzuki hit a lead-off ground-rule double (without the wind, it would have been a really nice home run). Gardner singled. Derek Jeter grounded into a doubled play but still scored Ichiro. So the score was planted at 3-1 Toronto.

The Yankees relief kept the Blue Jays from adding to their score via Leroux, Cabral, and Betances (for the 7th); Burawa in the 8th, and Miller in the 9th. The Yankees just couldn’t overcome the Toronto’s pitching staff, though they made a nice dent in their stats with 8 hits and a walk. In other words, they could get on base but not do much beyond that.

Now, defensively (with the 2 exceptions already mentioned), the Yankees were rather amazing. Brian McCann caught a high foul ball behind the plate in the 6th. And then there was Zelous Wheeler in the 8th inning, with two virtual snags out of the air at 2nd base.

And that makes Wheeler my one to watch today. Wheeler has been consistently good through all of Spring, and today’s defensive show was just the latest chapter of the Spring Wheeler Show. When the final roster is announced this coming weekend, I look forward to seeing where everyone lands, but I’ll be particularly interested in a handful of guys on the extended roster that could play a key role in this year’s team at various times during the season. And I do believe Wheeler will be among them. I guess part of me also wants to imagine what the Bleacher Creatures might do to Wheeler’s name (something along the lines of “Zel-ous-Whee-ler” clap-clap-clapclapclap).

At any rate, it’s going to be a very interesting year…

Go Yankees!

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