Spring Game 16: NYY vs. MIA — Mixed results on the opposite coast

An interesting mix of 7,648 Yankee, Marlin, and Jeter fans showed up for this afternoon’s match-up between the two team in Jupiter, Florida (about 3 hours southeast of Tampa, just north of West Palm Beach). The team actually traveled south following yesterday’s game, so former Yankee Starlin Castro (and current Marlins 2nd baseman) took some of his former teammates out to dinner (including Sanchez, Torres, and Florial) to catch up. In other words, it was a powerful Yankee (and post-Yankee) presence, but that didn’t stop the Yankees from faltering at first.

Recently named the official 5th starter, Jordan Montgomery certainly had a less than ideal start today. In the 2nd, he gave up a 1-out walk and a 2-out single before they both scored on a double. And in the 3rd, with 1 out, he gave up another walk and single. Things just weren’t looking up for him today. So the Yankees turned to reliever Brady Lail, who promptly gave up a 3-run home run to add to the Marlins’ early lead. Lail, however, had better luck with a scoreless 4th inning.

He handed the game over in the 5th to Wade LeBlanc, who’s had mixed results this Spring and once again today. After 2 outs, he gave up a double and a 2-run home run to further the Marlins’ lead. But LeBlanc had a perfect 6th inning to bounce back and set the tone for the rest of the pitchers. Carroll and Harvey each had a scoreless inning to close out the game for the Yankees. Yankee pitchers racked up 11 total strikeouts, but it was those 11 allowed hits and 4 walks that became the determining factor.

But it wasn’t like the Yankees didn’t make an effort. The had their first real opportunity in the 4th, with consecutive singles by Bird and Sanchez and a passed ball that put them in scoring position. Didi Gregorius’ ground out scored Bird and moved Sanchez to 3rd. Sanchez then scored on Miguel Andujar’s sacrifice fly.

In the 6th, with 1 out, Sanchez made it safely to 1st on a fielding error and was replaced by Higashioka. Not that a speedier runner was necessary as Didi Gregorius decided to rack up more RBIs this Spring with a big 2-run home run over the center field fence. Andujar’s beautiful triple went wasted with 2 quick outs to quell the Yankees’ attempts to chip away at the Marlins’ lead. Aaron Judge made one more effort in the 7th with a huge 2-out solo home run. It went so far over the left field fence that it landed on the balcony of the Marlins’ executive offices.

Final score: 7-5 Marlins

Next up: the Yankees host the Twins for an evening matchup in Tampa. Tanaka is scheduled to face off a former Yankee pitcher, and Tanaka really needs a better start than last time.

Someone pointed out that former Marlins star Giancarlo Stanton was oddly absent from this key game. Comparing it to Jeter’s obvious presence before the game and during the game from the owner’s suite. I didn’t really think either instance was that odd. First, it’s pretty common that the bigger stars or veterans often skip the longer bus trips. Like you might see Sabathia and Gardner on the 30-minute trip to Clearwater (Phillies) or Dunedin (Blue Jays) or Lakeland (Tigers) or even the hour trip to Bradenton (Pirates) or Sarasota (Orioles). But very rarely will they make the longer trips. It’s part of the perk of their status on the team not to have to sit through an uncomfortable bus ride (yes, even those super luxury buses aren’t really comfortable for hours on end).

And to point out the obvious, Jeter is part of the ownership group that runs things down in Miami (or Jupiter for the Spring) and runs the baseball operations part of things. So why would he not be at the home games to watch how the team he invested a ton of money in is doing? You don’t have to look very hard during Yankees’ Spring Training to see one of the Yankees’ owners (often Jennifer Steinbrenner Swindal in the owners’ box by the dugout). I suppose people are just getting used to the fact that a former player they used to cheer has moved from pinstripes on the field to a black short-sleeved shirt and pants in a cushy suite chair. Add in that it’s a whole different team, and the feelings get messed with on a different level.

In baseball, you get used to seeing players come and go thanks to trades, free agency, big signings, retirements, and rookie promotions. I mentioned to a friend at the game yesterday that there were players on the Mets that I liked as humans (and I think I could say that about every team), but until they wore pinstripes, they will just be a good guy in the wrong uniform.

It’s why I’ll remain with this simple tagline…

Go Yankees!

{Media note: no broadcast, no video highlights. Sorry!}

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