Spring Game 33: WAS vs. NYY — Farewell Florida, it’s that time of year…

As I write this, the Yankees are on a plane to Washington to face the Nationals tomorrow in their last game prior to the regular season. As I write this, we’re also still dealing with the loss against the Nationals today in the last home game of the Spring.

CC Sabathia got his final start of the Spring in today’s game against the visiting Nationals. And he got a rather bumpy start to his outing, giving up 3 runs in the first inning to the Nats — a walk, an RBI triple, an RBI single, and an RBI ground-rule double — 3 hits, 3 runs, and 2 walks that inning alone. But he settled down and became rather CC-like for the rest of his time. Overall, he went 5.1 innings, gave up 5 total hits, 3 runs, 3 walks, and struck out 3. It’s as if he’s transitioning from being the strikeout pitcher that he was in his 20’s to a ground/flyout pitcher, which if he’s back by good defense should be not a problem. Pettitte was a good example of a ground/flyout pitcher. (Is it a lefty thing?)

Pinder came in to get the final 2 outs of the 6th inning before handing the ball over to Andrew Bailey in the 7th. Bailey quickly got 2 strikeouts, but then struggled his way through the inning — a walk, a stolen base, an RBI single, and another walk — all before they finally called on reliever Nick Goody. It didn’t help. The next batter promptly got a 3-run home run before a final strikeout ended that 4-run inning for the Nationals.

The 8th inning was split by Burawa and Shreve, keeping the Nats from adding to their 7-run score. But Cesar Vargas’ 9th inning gave them 1 more, giving up 3 hits and 1 run in his inning — a lead-off double, a single, and an RBI single made the Nationals score 8 total runs off 11 total hits (and a ridiculously high 7 total walks, by the way).

On the flip side of things, the Yankees just weren’t hitting much today. Well, hitting that amassed to much in the way of run-production. Truth time: yes, the Nationals do have a couple of good hitters on their team, but the Nationals are known for one thing (and it’s not a young, power-hitting, scraggly-bearded outfielder) — their starting rotation. It’s what keeps them alive and kicking as far as they can possibly go in the season before tiring out. And today’s starter is well-known as one of the better pitchers in the NL.

So, the Yankees managed to total up 8 hits (and just 2 walks, by the way), but just 2 total runs. In the 4th inning, Teixeira got a nice double and then scored on Chase Headley’s even better double to put the Yankees on the board. And there the Yankees sat for most of the game. The Nats added to their score as the Yankees sat at 1. Until the 9th inning, that is. With 2 strikeouts already and the Nats just waiting for that final out to load up and head out, Ramon Flores breaks through with a double and then scored on Rob Refsnyder’s double.

The inning and game were over after the next batter, so the final score ended up 8-2 Nationals.

I always have mixed feeling about Spring Training’s Closing Day. You’ve built a rapport with the people who work the stadium, seeing them at every game and getting to know them a bit; and suddenly, it’s goodbye and see ya next year. Smiles, pictures, and hugs only go so far to cover the loss of the developed familiarity. And the players you’re used to seeing get spread throughout the farm system (although some do get spread further out with trades and releases and the like). There is a mix of the finality of the end of this chapter with the hope for both what is to come starting next week and what is to come once again next March.

A special shout-out to Amanda, Wayne, Daisy, Jenny, and Rebecca (though they were simply a handful of so many amazing people) at Steinbrenner Field for making this Spring Training a really great one!

I’m certainly clinging to hope that this is a sign of great things to come this season. I like the idea of starting off on the right foot.

Goodbye, sunny 80-something degree Florida! (For now — they’re back in Tampa to play the Rays in just a couple of weeks.) Hello, chilly 50-something degree Northeast!

Go Yankees!

{Tech note: Media links to come… I promise!}

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