Spring Game 18: ATL vs. NYY — A Soggy Saturday

There always seems to be one day in March every year that is questionable at best as to whether the game will actually go on that day. Today was such a day. In fact, normally, I get to the park kind of early, but today, we waited to leave until about an hour before the scheduled start time. I should note that it was pouring rain the entire walk from the car to the gates. Umbrellas (that aren’t allowed in the stadium) were everywhere. And those awful plastic glorified garbage bags they have the nerve to tell you are “rain ponchos” were being sold for $10 a pop by the scalpers in the petting zoo in the parking lot.

At first, the 1:05 pm game was delayed 25 minutes. But the closer we got to the initial start time, the harder the rain seemed to pour down from the sky. The radar showed a massive, bright red mass over west-central Florida. People were packed together like sardines (or pickles) along the concourse, something all the vendors took advantage. We were camped out on the cold, hard cement of one of the breezeways next to a young family, while the adults around us stood to wait out the storm (and looked at us like we were crazy for thinking that the floor up against the wall was a decent place to hang out for the next hour or so). It was at this point they announced an indefinite rain delay. So why should I keep standing?

About the second assumed start time, they announced that the game would start at 2:10, just over an hour delay as they were taking the tarp off the soggy field and drying the field. Of course, the irony is that they first must dry it before they wet it down again. I don’t know. I don’t question the grounds crew’s methods if the field looks pretty and the guys don’t get hurt during the game.

We wiped down our seats and sat for what ended up being a rather easy going afternoon game, with the rain holding off for most of it (save for some initial sprinkles). And on with the game…

Michael Pineda got the start today against the visiting Braves and really did a pretty good job. Between his great pitching (4 innings, 4 hits, no walks, 1 run, and 4 strikeouts) and the team’s solid defense, it was a nice way to kick off the game. The run he allowed came in the 3rd inning when a lead-off single stole 2nd base, moved to 3rd on a ground out, and then scored on an RBI single. But that would be it for the Braves under Pineda’s watch.

Let me talk about that 1st inning defense for a minute. Okay, so the Braves’ lead-off batter starts the game off with a solid double into the corner of left field and then steals 3rd base successfully. But then, something just switches on for the Yankees. The next batter lines out directly to Chris Denorfia in left field (1 out) who fires it perfectly to Corporan at home for the tag out of the runner going home (2 outs, double play). And then to cap off this crazy inning, a former Yankee fan favorite flies out deep to right-center field and Jacoby Ellsbury goes running for it, dives and catches the ball as he tumbles around the warning track. Said former Yankee literally tips his cap to Ellsbury, and the crowd is on their feet cheering for the outfielder as he jogs into the dugout.

The Yankees answered back this offense with their own contribution in the 4th inning, easily the most interesting inning the whole afternoon. Gregorius led-off with a walk, and then Teixeira hit a nice single to get some runners on base. Carlos Beltran then singled home Gregorius, moving Teixeira all the way to 3rd before Chase Headley’s double scored Teixeira leaving runners in scoring position. And it was Starlin Castro’s single to score Beltran that would cap off the Yankees’ mid-game rally of sorts before the next two guys struck out and ended the inning.

With Pineda out of the game, the Yankees started their inning a piece bullpen relief. First up, the struggling Aroldis Chapman, whose back-to-back doubles led off his inning to score another run before Chapman found his focus and got his 3 outs. Chasen Shreve’s 6th inning continued to cement Shreve’s invaluable contribution to the Yankees’ bullpen with a perfect inning. He was followed by Goody, Moreno, and Yates, all of whom have had some rough innings this Spring, but turned out 3 scoreless innings for the Yankees today.

Neither team scored after that Braves run in the 5th, as the game kind of found a bit of a back-and-forth pace for the rest of the Saturday afternoon. The clouds never did quite clear up, keeping at bay whatever storm seemed to plague the surrounding area. But never Steinbrenner Field. “Somebody Up There” clearly wanted this game to go on today.

Final score: 3-2 Yankees.

During the 5th inning, Ellsbury got plunked on the right hand today while at bat. And everyone held their breath. But while very sore and bruised, x-rays and CT scans came back negative, meaning he will have the next 2 weeks to recover, heal, and prepare for Opening Day. Should there be any issues, the Yankees’ 4th outfielder Hicks will substitute in center for a few games, as is his job.

Sorry, another day where none of the minor league guys stood out much. The only exception would have to be Denorfia’s massive throw from left field to get the runner trying to go home in the 1st inning. But Denorfia isn’t exactly an “up and comer” in his career. So I guess my person is actually no one once again. It’s harder to do this when more guys get reassigned to minor league camp as the Spring winds down.

And speaking of which, after today’s game, Gamel was optioned to AAA Scranton and reassigned to minor league camp. Joining him there are pitchers Cloyd, Montgomery, Pestano, and Bleier, and infielders Diaz and Solano. With just two weeks left until Opening Day, this is going to happen more and more to get the team whittled down to its 40-man and 25-man rosters just in time. On a personal note, they keep cutting some of my favorite ones to watch from Spring games, but I have no doubt it’s not the last time I’m going to see some of these guys again. Maybe even up in the Bronx this year.

Go Yankees!

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