Spring Game 27: NYY vs. PHI — #TanakaTime & #BirdPower

I’m creating a new hashtag because we clearly need one. So when you write about the Yankees’ new starting 1st baseman on your social media, use the hashtag “#BirdPower” to join the conversation. I have a feeling we’ll be using that one a lot this season.

Yes, Girardi officially declared (really unsurprisingly) that Greg Bird will be the Yankees’ starting 1st baseman, beginning Opening Day. And if you’ve been following Bird’s progress this Spring, this won’t surprise you. Actually, if you’ve been following Bird’s progress since he was first invited to Spring Training in 2013 or perhaps when he had a breakout year in Spring and ended up having his MLB debut in 2015. If anyone is clearly the “heir apparent” for Teixeira, it is Greg Bird — with the power at the plate and the mad skills defending his corner.

In celebration of this announcement earlier today, Bird showed off his power (hence the new hashtag) to back up some great pitching (once again) by Masahiro Tanaka. Tanaka’s Spring has just been outstanding. He is still carrying a 0.00 ERA; in other words, not a single run has scored while he’s been on the mound. Apparently, this is the 2nd best streak in over a decade of Spring Training.

Tanaka faced the Phillies in Clearwater today, giving up 3 hits and a walk and adding 3 more strikeouts to his overall total (which are scary good this Spring, by the way), setting himself up for the eventual win. Tanaka threw into the 6th inning before handing things over to Holder who cleaned up the inning flawlessly (as usual). Frieri’s 7th inning continued that streak with 3 nasty strikeouts against the Phillies.

Marsh’s 8th inning was a little sticky. A lead-off walk moved to 3rd on a double and then scored on a sacrifice fly. The second runner then scored on a ground out to get the Phillies on the board. Mantiply kind of followed suit in the 9th — a 1-out double moved to 3rd on a single and then scored on a sacrifice fly. Though the Phillies ran out of innings and opportunities.

And they didn’t have Greg Bird, who kicked off the Yankee offense in the 4th. With Sanchez on base with a 1-out walk, Bird hit his 5th home run of the Spring, a monster 2-run homer deep over the center field wall to get things started. And in the 6th, Gardner reached base on a fielding error before ending up at 3rd on Sanchez’s double. Only for Bird to do it all again — #6, a 3-run home run over the grassy area seating beyond the right field fence to give the Yankees a hefty lead. (#BirdPower)

Another out later, the Phillies went to a new pitcher, and though their starter got knocked around a bit (mostly by Bird), he still got 7 strike outs himself (matching the Yankees’ pitching total today). The new reliever got nicked immediately as Chase Headley knocked a solo home run to jump in on the fun.

To cap off the scoring, the Yankees played a little small ball in the 8th. With 2 outs and a runner on base after a walk, Ruben Tejada’s double added just one more run to the Yankees’ total this afternoon. In other words, the Yankees were in command from the start today.

Final score: 7-3 Yankees

And in World Baseball Classic news: last night’s soggy semi-final game between the teams representing the United States and Japan was a tight game all the way up the final out, but it would be Team USA that came out on top, with their 2-1 victory. This is the first time Team USA has been in the finals, and tonight (9 pm EST) they face the team from Puerto Rico in a replay of their recent tiebreaker.

I made the joke earlier today that for all the chatter about the “World Series” just being played by USA teams (sorry, Toronto, but you know it’s true), the “World Baseball Classic” ends up being more teams from the USA. Again, let’s remind everyone that Puerto Rico is a commonwealth of the US. All Puerto Ricans are American citizens and hold American passports. Similar to how Canada is to the United Kingdom or how Curaçao is to the Netherlands. (By the way, Didi Gregorius was born in Amsterdam and raised in Curaçao, and thus could have played for the Dutch team for either reason.)

Anyway, for all you rooting for the “American team” to win tonight in Dodger Stadium: Congratulations, you win either way tonight!

Go Yankees!

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