Okay, this late March weather has been kind of wacky, but the giant storm system that swept through today (and the only storm system in the entire country right now) ended up canceling 4 of the 8 games scheduled to play in the Grapefruit League today (though one is scheduled for tonight) and shortened 2 more due to extended rain delays. With split squad on the schedule for the Yankees today, the rain delayed and drastically affected both games.
First, the Yankees crossed the Bay to play the Phillies in Clearwater, but the storm delayed the start 35 minutes. When they started the game, it was looking promising, despite the rain keeping steady somewhere between a drizzle and actual downpour. The Yankees got off to a great start getting 4 runs in the 1st inning (thanks mainly to Dustin Ackley’s monster 3-run home run), and starter Masahiro Tanaka was keeping that lead solid, only giving up 1 run (an RBI double in the bottom of that 1st inning). Tanaka needed this kind of outing after his last near-disaster last week, as he’s slated (according to most sources) for the Opening Day starter next week.
The Yankees added onto that 3-run lead with 3 more runs (a nice 2-run home run in the 4th), giving them a 7-1 score going into the 5th inning.
But then, some nasty lightning swept through the area, and for the sake of safety, they went into a bit of a rain delay before finally calling it quits. As the game hadn’t been a full 5 innings, the game was officially cancelled and all scores and statistics reset to zero.
Final score for Game 1: nothing, because it was cancelled… it’s as if it never happened. And that is just awful because the Yankees were doing really good today in Clearwater.
So then over in Tampa, despite the threatening, overcast, very muggy skies, the game played on against the visiting Pirates (yes, it was the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania vs. the City of New York today). So, the Yankees took the field behind CC Sabathia, looking for a good outing to get himself back on track for the Spring. And he did so, rather well actually. He was solid through his first 3 innings, with a bit of a dust-up in his 4th, overall giving up just 3 hits, 2 walks, and 2 runs, striking out 2 Pittsburgh batters. With 2 runners in scoring position and 2 outs, a nice single scored both runners to get the Pirates on the board.
In the mean time, the Yankees racked up enough runs to help Sabathia earn today’s win. In the 2nd, Mark Teixeira led-off with a walk, and just as the rain really started to come down, Carlos Beltran smacked a big 2-run home run to get the Yankees on the board. Then Headley singled and scored on Starlin Castro’s double. All before any outs were recorded that inning. In the 3rd, Gardner reached safely on a fielding error moved to 3rd on Rodriguez’s single and then scored on Teixeira’s single. Rodriguez’s pinch-runner then scored on Beltran’s sac fly (making Beltran responsible for 3 of the Yankees’ 5 runs today)
So with the rain coming down at a steady pace, the Yankees went into the 5th inning (about the time the Yankees in Clearwater were in the midst of their “non-game”). Nick Goody came on in relief and really struggled once again. A lead-off home run added to the Pirates’ score and a double put a runner in scoring position before a line out ended Goody’s less than successful day. Johnny Barbato took his turn on the mound quickly getting a ground out, but a single scored that runner putting the Pirates within 1 run.
So at the top of the 6th inning, no one took the field. The home plate umpire, Girardi, and the grounds crew chief held a bit of a tete-a-tete to debate what they wanted to do with the weather. Initially, the decision was to call a delay. Out came the tarp, as fans (at least those who remained donning ponchos and rain jackets) went to join the non-ponchoed and jacketless on the concourse and breezeway to await the final call.
After a 30 minute delay, they officially called the game, making it a shortened but complete game, having finished 5 complete innings (or 30 total outs).
Final score for Game 2: 5-4 Yankees, in 5 innings.
Roster update: Girardi (and the powers that be) hope to have a finalized 25 (and 40) man roster by Thursday, though he has confirmed that reliever Bryan Mitchell will be joining the Bronx-bound crew for Opening Day.
Also, no “one to watch” today because the rain robbed us of time to watch the farm guys in action. They’re out there, and they’re going to impact every level of the Yankees’ farm system, and some will even don the pinstripes with the big guys. Be ready… they’re coming!