They call it “Fenway South” because they built Jetblue Park in Fort Myers to look like Fenway Park up in Boston, complete with a big wall out in left field painted Fenway green. However, the comparison is missing something very important about the original — its historic charm. When you walk through Fenway, you just know that where you’re walking is in the footprints of people who once rooted for the likes of Ruth and Williams over the past century. In Fort Myers, it’s just a park that happens to resemble some famous park in a few ways. Truth be told, I compared the similarity to a high school production of a big Broadway musical — an attempt at the bells and whistles without the polish and professionalism.
Okay, enough Red Sox bashing… can you tell who the Yankees visited this evening?
Yes, today, the Yankees played their first evening game of the Spring just a couple hours south at the Red Sox’s Spring Home. And it was Ivan Nova to start the game and be on point. He threw 4 innings, gave up 3 hits, a walk, and a run, striking out 4 batters, easily his best outing of the Spring so far. The only run the Red Sox scored off Nova was in the bottom of the 1st inning — 2 runners led off with singles to land them on the corners so that the big power hitter ground into a double play that scored the lead runner.
Bryan Mitchell came on in relief and kept the Red Sox to that one run in his 3 near perfect innings — just 1 hit allowed, no runs, no walks, and 1 strikeout. This outing earned him the win (more in just a moment).
Then Nick Rumbelow came on in the 8th with another rough outing. A lead-off single and a wild pitch landed a runner at 2nd. Then (1 out and) 2 more singles loaded the bases so that a single easily scored a run, but kept the bases loaded. A pop-up and a ground out got Rumbelow out of trouble, but it was another sticky inning for the reliever.
In the bottom of the 9th, Nick Goody came on in relief and had the worst outing of his Spring and still managed to keep control of the game — a ground out, 2 singles, a fly out, an RBI double, and a pop-up. So tonight’s Yankees pitchers gave up 11 hits and 1 walk, and struck out 6 Boston batters.
But on the other side of things, the Yankees faced an old foe as the Red Sox starter (former Rays/Tigers’ starter Price) who put in 4 innings of his own, giving up just 3 hits, no walks, and 1 run to the Yankee batters, striking out 6. The only run he gave up was a 2-out solo shot into the Red Sox bullpen out in center field by Aaron Hicks.
Then the Red Sox went into the bullpen and held down the Yankees’ batters to the 1-1 tie for 3 innings with 3 relievers putting up zeros and striking out 4 batters overall. But that 8th inning made the night for the Yankees. The new reliever hit Diaz to lead off the 8th inning. And after a strike out, he gave up a double to Gamel to put runners in scoring position. Cesar Puello singled home both Diaz and Gamel and then moved to 2nd on Carlos Corporan’s ground out. Silva reached on a messy throwing error, which also scored Puello, and then stole 2nd. And with Torreyes on with a walk, Cito Culver’s nice double in the left field corner scored Silva and Torreyes and had the Red Sox calling for a new reliever to get out of the inning.
The Yankees took one messy inning and made it work for them today. And as always, a win against the Red Sox (even a rather sloppy one, at least on their side) is always a good feeling. Honestly, the Yankees needed a win today.
Final score: 6-3 Yankees.
The “one to watch”: I’ve got to give it to Cesar Puello today mainly because of his offensive contributions in that 8th inning. He went 1-for-2, with a run scored, 2 RBIs, and a stolen base. In other words, getting Puello on base tonight was a dangerous thing, a good thing for the Yankees. Puello showed off some very great base running. And he held his own out in right field in the latter part of the game too. Not a terrible way to get people to remember your name.
Also, the Yankees announced HOPE Week this year to be held June 6-10. HOPE Week is my absolute favorite week of the season because it’s when the Yankees select 5 special organizations and people to give back and honor for their year-long service to the community. It reminds everyone to be people of generosity and serve our communities in significant ways because together we can make a difference and change this world.