It was actually another beautiful day in Tampa, and as we are inundated with friends and family’s pictures from the snow-covered Northeast (including NYC), it’s yet another reminder as to why baseball chose Florida and Arizona to host Spring Training. Compared to Bangor, Maine and Fort Collins, Colorado. So even when it dips into the 50’s (as it was by sunset), it’s still a much better option than shoveling feet of snow and dealing with cars sliding on the ice.
Luis Severino got his Spring start this afternoon against the visiting Phillies and actually had a really strong outing over all. He threw into the 4th inning, only giving up 3 hits, a walk, and an unearned run in addition to his 3 strong strikeouts. In fact, Severino’s only trouble came in the 4th inning. With 1 out, the second batter hit a bouncing ground-rule double. That would be it for Severino, and the Yankees wanted to work out Aroldis Chapman for the rest of the inning. After a nice strikeout, the next batter made it to 1st on a fielding error, and a single scored the Phillies’ first run.
Justus Sheffield got through the 5th fairly unscathed but struggled in the 6th. With 1 out, Sheffield gave up consecutive doubles to add another run, a single put runners on the corners, and a long sacrifice fly score yet another run. Struggling to get that final out, the Yankees turned to middle reliever Wade LeBlanc who also fought to find that final out in the 6th. He gave up a double to put 2 runners in scoring position and then another double scored both runners before a fly out mercifully ended the inning.
In the mean time, the Yankees actually grabbed the lead on the backs of the veterans early in the game. In the 4th, with 2 outs, Sanchez worked a walk and then scored as part of Didi Gregorius’ strong 2-run home run. Drury followed that up with a double and then scored on Eric Kratz’s long single to put the Yankees in the lead. Hicks led-off the 5th with a walk, made it to 2nd on a passed ball, and ended up at 3rd on a throwing error on a poorly hit ball by Aaron Judge. After a pitching change, Bird worked his own walk to load up the bases. And with no outs, Giancarlo Stanton stepped into the batter’s box and hit a long single into right field to score both Hicks and Judge. And Sanchez added to the fun with a nice single to score Bird. This gave the Yankees a rather big lead.
Now, reliever LeBlanc had a much better 7th inning, keeping the Phillies from adding to that score. But his 8th was less than ideal, starting with hitting the lead-off batter. Two outs later, LeBlanc once again had trouble finding that 3rd out, instead giving up a ground-rule double that scored an advancing runner to tie up the game. The Yankees turned to Giovanny Gallegos to find that elusive 3rd out. Again, it was rather elusive. Gallegos gave up a walk and a single that scored the go-ahead run for the Phillies.
Gallegos had a better 9th inning, keeping the score close, but the Yankees’ offense was non-existent by the bottom of the 9th. So the game was decided in that 8th inning.
Final score: 7-6 Phillies
One to Watch: today, there wasn’t a specific standout young player with some big flashy play. Instead, I wanted to recognize infielder Tyler Wade. Wade has been starting games this Spring. Now only 23 with a handful of MLB at-bats, he is in the short running for the job at 2nd base, a position he played today and plays with some level of consistency. Currently batting .318 this Spring overall, Wade got a solid single in the 3rd and played 8 full innings today, only substituted defensively in the 9th. He’s somebody to watch because that 2nd base job may be his to earn this season, and honestly, I think he could really shine there this year.
Next up: the Yankees head over to Wide World of Sports at Disney World (about an hour east of Tampa) to face the Braves tomorrow night. First pitch at 6:05 pm EST. Sonny Gray is set to start that game.