Spring Game 21: HOU vs. NYY — Shutout under the lights by the reigning champs

Another clear, cool night under the lights for the Yankees to host a rare night game this Spring in front of a packed sold-out crowd at Steinbrenner Field. This time, they faced off against the Astros, who clearly have a much stronger fan base than any previous years. Call it the winners’ upswing, call it fickle fans, call it good marketing. But the last few years, I couldn’t give away tickets to games when the Astros came to visit. This year, it was almost as pricey as Boston tickets on the third-party market, plus a huge (and very outspoken) contingency of orange-clad fans showed up to cheer on the visitors. Though it was amusing to hear them cheer on simple things like stolen bases and a strikeout like it was a grand slam in Game 7 of the World Series.

Jordan Montgomery got the start tonight and really had a pretty good outing overall. He threw 4 whole innings, only giving up 3 hits. Unfortunately, 2 of those were solo home runs — a 2-out home run in the 1st and a lead-off solo shot in the 4th. But other than that, the Yankees pitchers were able to hold off the Astros’ “b-team” (meaning no stars from last October made the hike to Tampa today). David Robertson threw a solid, scoreless 2 innings, hanging things to Chad Green for 5 outs (4 of which were strikeouts). Giovanny Gallegos breezed his way through 3 solid outs, and Brady Lail closed out the 9th with a lone fly out.

Meanwhile, the Yankees were effectively shutout by the Astros’ pitching staff, including the lone “name” in their starter tonight. It actually felt a bit like the Astros and Yankees were pretty evenly matched as far as pitching went tonight. And really for hitting too. Neither team hit too much — 6 Astros’ hits, just 2 Yankees. And both teams struck out 12 times each. But the shocker of tonight’s game was the Yankees getting completely shut out, not scoring a single run. This is the first time all Spring they’ve not scored at least one run in a game. Let’s hope this is a rarity.

Final score: 2-0 Astros

One to Watch: It took a while to find this one today, but then Estevan Florial made some great catches in center field, starting in the 5th inning. But I’ve been wanting to comment on Florial because he’s pretty consistent in this one area — his defense is usually flawless. He’s now listed as the Yankees’ #2 prospect (the list was recently updated to reflect performances this Spring), but he’s just 20 years old. He’s got quite the future, and he’ll be one to watch over the next few years before he breaks into the main roster. But there’s something there to keep an eye on.

Next up: the Yankees head about 40 minutes east to Lakeland to visit the Tigers tomorrow afternoon. Masahiro Tanaka will start the game.

Roster moves: the Yankees announced that they negotiated a trade with the Twins this week. They acquired minor league pitcher Luis Gil in exchange for outfielder Jake Cave, who was recently designated for assignment. Gil is a 19-year-old pitcher from Venezuela, most recently with the Twins’ rookie team, an ERA of 2.59 over 14 games (41.2 innings) last season. It’s just another sign that the farm system is so deep that the future continues to look bright for years to come.

Go Yankees!

{Media note: for reasons that make no sense to anyone, the game tonight was not filmed so there are no video links tonight. Not that there was much to highlight for the Yankees. It’s just how that works out sometimes. Sorry!}

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