Spring Game 34: NYY vs. PHI — Farewell to Spring! Bomber Alert!

So, the Yankees are closing out their Spring season on a distinctive upswing. After today’s game, they end the season with a record of 24-8-1, tying their best record in the modern era (post-expansion era, or 1962-present), which happened to be the Spring of 2009. And for trivia’s sake, let me take a moment to remind everyone that 2009 also happened to be the last time the Yankees won the World Series, after an amazing season of 103 regular season wins. Not that a good Spring is ever a clear indication of how a regular season will unfold, but allow us all to savor the loose connection and hope for a moment.

{Note: technically, the Yankees did win 25 games this Spring. But the game against Team Canada wasn’t an official Spring Training game and thus doesn’t count towards the official statistics. So, read into that what you want.}

This afternoon, the Yankees traveled back across Tampa Bay to close out their Spring with the Phillies, effectively bookending their Spring in Clearwater this year. And it was Luis Severino to show off why he will be an asset to this team this year, something he did quite successfully too.

Severino’s 1st inning was a bit of a struggle. The lead-off batter walked, moved to 2nd on a 1-out single, and then scored on another single. Despite loading up the bases a bit later, Severino got out of the inning without further harm, before proceeding to shut down the next 9 batters (or 10 outs in a row). Even with runners in scoring position allowed in the 5th, Severino still worked his way out of trouble to keep the Phillies from adding to their score.

And then all 4 relievers followed suit. Warren, Clippard, Marsh, and Frare all took an inning to breeze through the Phillies’ lineup and shut them down rather effectively. In total, the Yankees’ pitching staff turned out an impressive 10 strike outs for a nice statistic this afternoon.

The Phillies’ pitching staff had a less-than-stellar afternoon, much to the favor of the Yankees’ offense. And like they’ve been doing all Spring, the Yankees saw their opportunity and pounced. So, they racked up 13 hits and 5 walks in total off Phillies’ pitchers today. And most of that was in the 1st inning. A very messy, 49 minute 1st inning. (Yes, it beat Tuesday night’s messy 1st inning by 2 minutes longer in length.)

Here’s how the Yankees won in the 1st inning: Ellsbury led-off with a single and then ended up at 3rd on Bird’s 1-out walk and a throwing error. Ellsbury then scored on Aaron Judge’s 2-out single. After Hicks’ walk loaded the bases, Ronald Torreyes’ single scored 2 runs. A passed ball moved runners to scoring position so that they could both score on Rob Refsnyder’s single. The Phillies decided their starter had enough and couldn’t get that 3rd out, so they went to their bullpen. It didn’t help them. After Kozma’s single, back at the top of the roster, Ellsbury singled and scored Refsnyder and Kozma ended up at 3rd after a rundown went awry thanks to fielder’s interference. And then it would be Gary Sanchez to hit his 5th home run of the Spring, a sharp 3-run home run to push the score into double digits. Bird walked again, but a ground out mercifully ended the inning after 13 Yankee batters.

Oh, but the Yankees weren’t done yet. With 1 out and Hicks on base with a single in the 2nd, Ronald Torreyes hit a big 2-run home run to continue the Yankee dominance this afternoon. In the 6th, with 1 out and another reliever on the mound, young prospect Ford doubled and then scored on Chris Carter’s ground-rule double. McKinney came on to pinch-run for Carter only to end up scoring as part of Rashad Crawford’s 2-run home run to cap off the Yankees’ offensive show this afternoon.

Final score: 14-1 Yankees

And we have a final roster. Before the game, the Yankees optioned Rob Refsnyder to AAA Scranton, which leaves Ronald Torreyes and Pete Kozma for infield utility on the 25-man roster. This works because Kozma and Torreyes can play 2nd, 3rd, and shortstop all fairly well to help platoon the infield. And it will be Aaron Judge in right field on Opening Day, and Luis Severino as the Yankees’ 4th starter. This also works because Aaron Hicks can platoon at any position in the outfield, and Severino clearly outperformed all the other possible pitchers for the 4th and 5th starting spot this Spring. (Here’s a depth chart to help give you some idea of who’s playing what base and who’s their back-up as of today.)

It looks like it could be a pretty good season. The Yankees travel to Atlanta to play in an exhibition game tomorrow night. The game will help inaugurate the Braves’ new stadium on the north end of the Atlanta area. All you Turner Field devotees, no worries, Atlanta isn’t getting rid of the Olympic landmark just yet. They plan on using it for college games, concerts, and special local events. Much like Yankee Stadium when the Yankees aren’t in town, so a good use of an existing stadium.

Go Yankees!

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