Spring Game 11: PIT vs. NYY — You don’t run on El Gary

Another great day for baseball, another win for the Yankees, though the visiting Pirates certainly gave it a good effort to try to halt it. Masahiro Tanaka had his second start of the Spring, giving up 3 hits over his 3 innings, but striking out 4 Pirates’ batters. Layne, Chapman, and Clippard continued keeping the Pirates scoreless through the next 3 innings.

In the 7th, Adams struggled with control and the strike zone as he walked his first two batters. A single scored the first runner. But after a runner was caught stealing (see more below), Adams got a great strikeout and a fly out to get out of the inning.

Luis Cessa threw the final two innings, sailing through the 8th, but seeing some trouble in the 9th thanks to a messy fielding error. Center fielder Fowler tumbled over right fielder Frazier trying to catch a pop fly and dropping the ball in a perfect example of why you’re supposed to call it. The runner made it all the way to 3rd thanks to the error. The next batter hit a big sacrifice fly to right field to a waiting Clint Frazier who fired it into Gary Sanchez at home, who promptly dropped it and thus missed the runner scoring at home. A fly out (this one to left field) ended the inning and the game.

On the other side of things, the Yankees were slow to do much offensively thanks to the show of force by both the pitching staff and the really stellar infield defense. In the 4th, with 2 outs, Holliday hit a deep double and then ended up at 3rd on Carter’s single and a throwing error. With Judge’s walk, the bases were loaded, and the Yankees were staring at their first opportunity to change the zeros dotting the scoreboard. A wild pitch moved all the runners up, scoring the first run of the game for the Yankees.

After the Pirates tied the game up in the top of the 7th, the Yankees came back in the bottom of that inning to break the tie. Choi was hit in the face by a pitch and was granted 1st base, but he was clearly shaken up. So they sent Castillo in as pinch-runner. Pete Kozma singled and kept things alive. A really bad wild pitch and error allowed Castillo to get all the way home to break the tie, moving Kozma to 2nd. With 1 out, Mateo hit the ball, and (rightly so), the Pirates made the play for Kozma running home for the out. They got it.

The Yankees got the needed insurance run in the 8th. With 1 out, Sanchez and Frazier each singled. After a pitching change and a strikeout, Kozma singled home Sanchez. And that lone play turned out to the be one that saved the game for the Yankees this afternoon.

Final score: 3-2 Yankees.

Let’s focus on the lesson for all opponents who come up against the Yankees. You don’t run on “El Gary”. Yes, the assumed Yankees starting catcher caught two guys stealing 2nd today in the 7th and then the 8th innings. He’s thrown out 5 runners in the last 6 games, and it’s just ridiculously impressive. His throws are sharp, quick, and on-target almost every single time. And to be perfectly fair, let’s not forget the guys covering 2nd who not only have to catch the ball but tag out the runner in a mere split second. Today, it was Jorge Mateo.

Okay, player of the game: Gleyber Torres. He’s been hyped quite a bit, being one of the best players in the Arizona Fall League, and as easy trade bait as part of the Chapman-Cubs trade in the middle of last year. He is considered one of the best prospects in the entire system. And while I’ve seen him before, nothing was really that outstanding until today. Today, he showed up to play, and he played up to the hype. After a big swing that landed him on the ground (quite amusingly, by the way) in the 3rd (ending in a ground out), Torres’ second at-bat ended in a great triple in the 5th and was just superb at 2nd base today. He showed all of us why his name is still in consideration for something special.

But still, you just don’t run on “El Gary”…

Go Yankees!

{In case you were wondering: “El Gary” is something Gary Sanchez uses in his social media posts and has become a bit of a trademark and brand for the young star player.}

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