Spring Game 14: CAN vs. NYY — A stop on their flight south for the Spring

It was a hot day today, under the sun in the aptly named “Sunshine State”. And for some odd reason, Steinbrenner Field was only about half-filled. The logic behind missing it is ridiculous — people seem to think it’s not a “real game” because Team Canada made a brief stop in Tampa before heading to Miami for the World Baseball Classic tomorrow. Well, hate to burst that bubble, but none of the games this month (none all over Florida or Arizona or part of the WBC) are actually “real games”. They’re all technically exhibition games.

Plus, those silly people missed out on a great game.

Luis Severino got the nod to start today’s game, with much of what could be the Opening Day line-up behind him. He got into a bit of trouble, still shaking off the rust of the off-season in the 1st inning. A lead-off walk scored as part of a 1-out 2-run home run. And with 2 outs, a double moved to 3rd on a fielding error to put another threat on base before Severino got out with a nice strikeout. His 2nd inning was much cleaner and kept the Canadians to those 2 runs.

Graham came on in the 3rd to breeze through the boys in bright red, and Chapman threw an amazing 4th inning — 12 pitches, 10 strikes, all 3 outs were strikeouts. Reliever Johnny Barbato also had a pretty stellar outing in the 5th and 6th innings, save a lingering pitch that found its way to bounce off the big black screen in center field. Barbato racked up his own 3 strikeouts in his 2 innings.

Enns followed Barbato’s suit and kept things going in his 2 innings, save his own allowed solo home run in the 8th inning. And Jonathan Holder’s 9th inning was a quick finish of Team Canada, adding one more strikeout to what would end up at 14 total strikeouts by the Yankees’ pitching staff today.

On the flip side of things, the Yankees matched that number with as many total hits in their offense against the Canadian pitching staff. After being down 2-0 going into the bottom of the 1st, the Yankees came back to tie things up. Ellsbury hit a 1-out double, and then Matt Holliday hit a 2-out, 2-run home run into the right field seats.

In the 3rd, Gary Sanchez led off the inning by breaking the tie with a big solo shot over the camera tower of the center field fence. Two outs later and Castro on 1st with a walk, Chase Headley smacked a deep triple to score Castro. Then Aaron Hick hit a pop-up ball that eked over the left field fence for a 2-run home run to give the Yankees a healthy lead.

In the bottom of the 6th, Hicks singled, stole 2nd, and moved to 3rd on Mateo’s single. After Mateo stole 2nd for himself, Kozma worked a walk to load the bases. Dustin Fowler singled to score Hicks, but kept the bases loaded. Two outs and a pitching change later, Saez reached base on a bad fielding error, which allowed both Mateo and Kozma to score and moved the 2 remaining runners up to scoring position, but a strikeout ended that hope. Kyle Higashioka capped off the Yankees’ scoring today in the 8th with a big solo home run over the upper deck out in left field.

Final: 10-4 Yankees.

Player of the Game: honestly, I’ve got to give that today to Rob Refsnyder. He entered the game with all the other replacement players in the 6th and just commanded the infield, making nearly every play that even remotely came near him with the finesse we haven’t seen from him in a long time. Plus, he got a really great single, going 1-for-2 in his offense today. Running a close second would be relievers Johnny Barbato and Jonathan Holder for their really good outings from the mound this afternoon.

And in World Baseball Classic News: late last night, Cuba blanked China 6-0; early this morning, Japan beat Australia 4-1, and the Netherlands eked out a victory against Chinese Taipei with a walk-off in the 9th, ending in a 6-5 score. The Yankees’ own Didi Gregorius played a huge part in the Netherlands’ victory, serving as the team’s designated hitter, going 3-for-4, with 3 RBIs and 2 runs scored. Honestly, Gregorius’ contributions are the reason why the Netherlands won the game.

Late tonight, the Netherlands take on the team representing Israel (10 pm EST), and early tomorrow morning, South Korea takes on Chinese Taipei (4:30 am EST) and Australia faces China (5 am EST). Closer to home, the two pools in our hemisphere begin tomorrow night. In Miami, Team Canada (fresh off their loss today) facing off reigning WBC champs from the Domincan Republic (broadcast begins at 6 pm EST), and in Jalisco, host team Mexico faces Italy (9 pm EST).

Go Yankees!

{Media note: apparently, the powers-that-be agree with the other half of the stadium that opted out of today’s game, so the cameras were off, allowing you to imagine the great events of the game. Sorry!}

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