Spring Game 12: NYY vs. NYM — Errors mean unearned runs, but then Billy McKinney…

March has really become a beautiful month, like postcard-perfect Spring Training weather. Originally, there was a prediction of rain, but a slight shift sped the storms through the area much earlier. In other words, the Yankees’ long bus ride ended with a really beautiful day to play a game on the Atlantic coast. But it was a less than beautiful game (mostly).

Domingo German got the start in today’s game against the Mets in Port St. Lucie, throwing into the 3rd inning, getting the Mets’ batters to strikeout 5 times of his 8 outs. And both his allowed runs were unearned, setting the stage for the majority of runs scored on both sides today. After 2 stellar innings, German struggled in the 3rd, allowing a lead-off walk before getting 2 of those 5 strikeouts. But then he loaded up the bases with another single and a walk. A messy fielding error in center field (thanks to the sun) allowed the batter to make it to 1st safely and scored the Mets’ first 2 runs.

Ben Heller came on in relief and got out of the inning. He almost had a strong outing, except allowing a 2-out solo shot in the 4th to add one more run to the Mets’ score. Reliever Dillon Tate came on and breezed through the 5th before having his own issues in the 6th. With 1 out and a runner on 1st, a single up the middle and a fielding error by Tate put runners in the corners. The next batter hit up the middle again, and the defense desperately tried to do a double play but only got the out at second to allow the run to score. Brady Lail and Cale Coshow closed out the final third of the game and kept the Mets from adding to their lead.

Meanwhile, the Yankees’ bats had a bit of a slow start themselves. It wasn’t until the 4th that the Yankees found their first opportunity. Tyler Austin led-off with a single, moved to 2nd on Romine’s 1-out single, advanced to 3rd on a passed ball, and then scored on Ronald Torreyes’ ground out to get the Yankees on the board. The Yankees were held to that lone run for a good portion of the game, and once again, it will fall to the “replacement” guys to charge forward and make the difference.

In the 8th, with 1 out, the Yankees loaded up the bases with singles to Avelino, Higashioka, and Holder. Then Trey Amburgey worked a walk to score a second Yankee run. Jeff Hendrix hit up the middle which was mishandled by the 2nd baseman, allowing everyone to advance safely, the bases stay loaded, and Higashioka to score another run. The Mets changed pitchers, which helped initially with a pop out. But then Billy McKinney. Yes, he did what you’d expect him to do, for the second day in a row. McKinney smacked a big grand slam homer to give the Yankees a big lead. (Told you yesterday you wouldn’t have to wait long for footage!)

But that wasn’t all. In the 9th, Avelino led-off with a single, moved to 3rd on Higashioka’s ground-rule double, and then scored on Jonathan Holder’s single. Then Trey Amburgey joined in on the fun with a big 3-run home run to solidify the Yankees’ big win today. And then the Mets got their 3 outs to get out of the inning.

It’s worth noting that the Yankee pitchers gave up 6 hits, allowed only 1 earned run, and struck out 10 Mets’ batters. But the Mets’ pitchers gave up 17 total hits (yes, you read that right), 6 earned runs (in just last 2 innings), and struck out 8 Yankees. And today, the stats certainly reflected the dominant team.

Final score: 11-4 Yankees

There are a few teams that are always fun to watch as a Yankees’ fan. Boston certainly takes the leading spot, but the Mets do run a close second. For a similar reason and a very different reason. First, no matter where the teams are in the standings, the games between the Red Sox-Yankees or Mets-Yankees are always intense, and both teams seem to really play harder. But the deep-seated rivalry between Boston and New York brings that historic element (which also spills over into other sports like football and basketball).

But the Mets-Yankees games feed into the strong New York civic pride. Those games are seen as a strong representation of the City’s best, and thus a representation that their City is the best. If you can only have one winner, it’s always going to be New York. Sure, it’s always a bad joke: “the winner of today’s game is going to be New York”. But it hits on a truth that New Yorkers feel (and many people echo in their own hometowns) — that their City is the best, the winners, the champions, the king. That civic pride brings a really different element to the crosstown rivalry games I don’t see duplicated in other same-city teams (like Angels-Dodgers or Oakland-San Francisco). But maybe that’s because it’s New York, and they’ve always been a pretty strong baseball center (including two of those now West Coast teams).

Next up: we’re back at Steinbrenner Field to host the Phillies. No starting pitchers have been announced yet, as I imagine the people making those decisions are currently snoozing on the bus ride back to Tampa. (It’s about a 3-hour drive to/from Port St. Lucie.) But it’s Spring, so it could literally be anybody. And isn’t that part of the fun?

Go Yankees!

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