Spring Game 1: NYY vs. PHI — It ain’t over ’til it ends in a tie, apparently

Well, the Yankees are certainly back in action… as the Yankees. A Yogi-ism is often seen as clichéd, especially when in use on a Yankees’ game, but today, it most definitely cannot be helped. Today’s game in Clearwater proved his “it ain’t over ’til it’s over” adage with a single swing. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

It may be March but the weather in sunny Florida seemed to be more in line with June, with the temperature hitting 82 about halfway through the game, though the temperature at the Bright House Stadium (the Phillies’ Spring Home in Clearwater) read nearly 10 degrees hotter. Today’s traveling squad for their first game this pre-season was a mix of Yankee veterans and non-roster invitees (and everything in between). And like so many games last season, this game seemed to be defined for the Yankees by the bookends.

Adam Warren threw the first two innings for the Yankees and looked just as sharp as he has in the past, giving up just 1 hit (a single in the 2nd inning) and no runs. Warren specializes in getting batters to hit the ball poorly to his defense, and a good defense will keep those runs off the board. And in spite of a bad throwing error by an infielder in the 2nd, no runner made it past 2nd base under Warren’s watch.

Prospect Luis Severino made his debut in the 3rd, and after a rather flawless 3rd inning with 2 strikeouts, struggled quite a bit in the 4th, giving up 4 hits and 2 runs with just 1 out in that inning. Moreno finished out his 4th inning, giving up a sacrifice fly (Severino’s runner), but a walk in the 5th ended up advancing around the bases and scored on a balk before Moreno got out of the inning. Goody’s 6th kept the Phillies from adding to their ever-increasing score, but Lindgren’s 7th got 2 outs, 2 hits, 2 runs, and a strikeout before Girardi opted for Pinder. Pinder closed out the 7th and threw a great 8th. Shreve, a recent signee, got the nod for the 9th, giving up just 1 hit and striking out 2 batters, just what the Yankees needed.

On the offensive side of things, the Yankees really out-hit the Phillies overall, and a good portion of that was in the first half of the game — 6 hits in the first 4 innings (with 5 in the first 2). With 2 outs in the 1st, Young singles, advances to 3rd on Jones’ single, and scored on Pirela’s single. The Yankees’ 1-0 lead was shortlived as the Phillies’ took advantage of some of the rookies’ nerves to tally up 5 runs over the next few innings. But even going into the 9th inning, the Yankees weren’t going to give up so easily.

I often associate Spring Training with a month-long “audition” for all those non-roster invitees and the minor leaguers on the extended roster to prove they’re worth a shot at the bigs this year. And boy, did some of those “auditioning” players make an impact in the 9th inning. Mason Williams led off the 9th inning with a double, advancing to 3rd on Figueroa’s ground out, (stayed put during a strikeout), and scored on Cave’s single.

Two outs on the scoreboard, with a runner on 1st, Slade Heathcott singled to put 2 runners on for prospect Aaron Judge. Two strikes to Judge and he finds a pitch he likes enough to send it over the left-center field wall for a 3-run home run to tie up the game 5-5. After the Phillies failed to get a run in the bottom of the 9th, the game ended in a tie. I know in the past, tied games have gone into the 10th to see if they can break the tie, but I guess it’s an option to end after 9, which is what they did.

Not a bad way to start the Spring — it’s not a loss; of course, it’s not a win either. But that 9th inning was something to watch. Judge has been one of the stories of Spring and the off-season, doing a great job in the Arizona Fall League. He is definitely one to watch, and I look forward to watching the young prospect in person.

The rest of the team was at Steinbrenner Field today with extended workouts. The team played an intrasquad game as practice yesterday, mixing up the Spring roster and giving the guys a chance to hit what was technically live batting practice against the Yankees’ pitching staff and essentially a “simulated game” for everyone.

It’s good to be back in the swing of things (bad pun intended), but it will certainly be better when it’s a win. But again, it’s Spring, and outside of the “audition” process, it really is just a month-long warm-up for the guys to get ready for the season.

Happy Spring Training!

Go Yankees!

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