Spring Games 13 & 14: NYY vs. TOR & DET vs. NYY — A split, a couple of balks, and a sunny Saturday

I think the oddest part about today was seeing fans in Toronto gear at the Detroit-New York game. Or maybe the fan that kept trying to work her way down to better seats, caught multiple times by the actual seat holders and several security people, only to be told time and time again that unless her ticket was for the seat, she had to return back to her original seats; she even tried to sweet-talk a security guy into letting her into the VIP club and get dugout access, which he fortunately stood his ground and said no repeatedly. I’m also happy to report that seemed to be not so much a Yankee fan as an “I want to be seen on TV” fan.

No, scratch that. It has to be the 5-person train of people wearing a single shirt that spelled out T-I-G-E-R-S, that paraded around Steinbrenner Field during the later innings to many boos and cheers, while the game was still going on.

There is nothing like a sunny Saturday afternoon at a ball game, complete with quirks and oddities, most of them being strange fans.

Oh, and there was not just 1 but 2 games played this afternoon.

Traveling across the Bay to Dunedin to visit the Toronto Blue Jays, half the Yankees played a rather tight match. Yankee pitchers combined to give the Blue Jays 9 strikeouts, beginning with the 3 by Esmil Rogers over the course of his 3 innings. Martin and Burawa each threw an inning and kept the Blue Jays offense from anything beyond a couple of hits and a walk. Reliever Tyler Webb’s 6th inning was the only momentary weakness in the pitching staff, when after a double play eliminated a lead-off single, a walk became trouble stealing 2nd and then scoring on a solid single to center field. It would not only be the only run the Blue Jays would score, it would also be the only run any team would score in Dunedin today. Vargas and Morena closed out the game, keeping that lone run a lone run on the scoreboard.

The Yankees had several opportunities to tie up and/or win the game with their own offense — 5 hits and 2 walks, but Jays’ pitchers kept the Yankees swinging away with their own 9 strikeouts and pretty decent defense. A tight game overall, but not much to talk about when even beat reporters on-site were raving solely about a player’s lone single and not some snazzy highlight reel-worthy play.

Of course, back in Tampa, the Yankees were playing a pretty good game of baseball against the visiting Tigers (in case the strange 5-person in a t-shirt story earlier didn’t give that away already).

Behind starter Michael Pineda, the Yankees’ pitching staff really gave a pretty good game, keeping those Tigers to a single run. Pineda got 8 straight outs (including 4 strikeouts) until he walked the 9th batter on the Tigers’ roster (coincidentally today’s Yankees’ catcher Romine’s brother Andrew), but quickly made up for that blip by picking him off 2nd to end the 3rd inning. Dellin Betances’ 4th inning was a bit messy — a lead-off ground-rule double ended up advancing to 3rd on what was called a balk (didn’t really look like one, as Betances seemed confused as to why everyone was yelling at the runner at 2nd base to run and thus was called a balk because he didn’t throw the ball in the end), and ended up scoring on a groundout.

But don’t worry too much, the Tigers never crossed over home plate again today, as relievers Miller, Rumbelow, Pazos, Long, and Burton all cobbled together the remaining innings and kept the Tigers from prowling. (Sorry, bad pun.)

The Yankees, on the other hand, were hitting today, and hitting rather well — 8 hits total to the Tigers’ 3. The first sign of trouble for the Tigers was in the 3rd, with Mason Williams’ lead-off triple (he’s getting kind of good at those) and then score on Didi Gregorius’ sacrifice fly. Then in the 6th, Gregorius, Headley, and Drew each single to load the bases. Mark Teixeira steps into the batter’s box and hits into what should be a double play, but it isn’t as the out is at 2nd to get Drew and on the double play attempt the ball sails high and misses 1st, allowing both Gregorius and Galvez (pinch-running for Headley) to score and Teixeira to be safe at 1st on the error.

Things got interesting once again in the bottom of the 7th. Flores singled but then was out on Slade Heathcott’s ground out (a force out at 2nd), and then Heathcott nicely stole 2nd. Heathcott quickly stole 3rd just before Galvez earned a walk, putting runners on the corners. This proved very beneficial as the pitcher then balked, allowing Heathcott (and Galvez) to advance and give the Yankees yet another run. (By the way, this was definitely a clear-cut balk.)

That would be all, but that would be enough. The Yankees win in Tampa over the Tigers 4-1, and lose in Dunedin to the Blue Jays 1-0.

Nope, there’s nothing like a sunny Saturday at the ball park.

Go Yankees!

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