Okay, two things made this game a little weird. First, it was easily the warmest game so far this Spring. (Finger crossed for “ever this Spring”.) So when the sun finally found shade behind some clouds, the miserably sweaty sea of people all collectively sighed in appreciation along with some cheers. And second, unlike most games, there was only a handful of opposing fans. Usually, there’s a decent contingency of fans present to cheer on the visiting teams, but there doesn’t seem to be a lot of local love for Miami today.
Luis Severino got the start against the visiting Marlins and mostly had a pretty good day. Despite allowing 7 hits, he still got 7 strikeouts in his 5 innings. But he really breezed through his first 3 innings (only giving up 2 hits), a lead-off solo shot in the 4th broke his scoreless streak. And in the 5th, with 1 out, he gave up consecutive singles to put runners on the corners. A sacrifice fly scored one run, and a double the other.
Jonathan Holder came on for a flawless 6th inning and found a spot of trouble in the 7th. A lead-off double in the 7th moved to 3rd on a wild pitch and then scored 2 outs later on a single. Chasen Shreve came on to finish off the inning, keeping the Marlins from adding to their score. Wade LeBlanc came on for a near-perfect 2 innings to close out the game, save a 2-out solo home run in the 8th (to Alex Rodriguez’s young nephew, by the way).
It’s worth noting that the Yankee pitching staff earned a whopping 15 strikeouts today, despite giving up 11 total hits. On the other side of things, the Yankee batters only got 5 strikeouts (and 11 hits and 4 walks), which may have been the difference of the game. The Yankee batters started out big in the 1st inning with Gardner’s lead-off single, complete with a “superman slide” into the base to beat the tag. He then stole 2nd and scored as part of Greg Bird’s monster 1-out 2-run home run. Stanton worked a walk but was out at 2nd as Sanchez hit into a fielder’s choice (or failed double play). Gregorius singled, and the Neil Walker got his first hit in pinstripes — a nice double to split the outfielders and scored both Sanchez and Gregorius to add to the Yankees’ early lead.
Gary Sanchez hit a 2-out solo home run in the 3rd to add another run, his 4th of the season. In the 6th, Stanton worked another walk, Gregorius hit a double, and Peterson worked a walk to load up the bases. Brandon Drury then hit a long single and scored Stanton and Gregorius. Gardner led-off the 7th with a single and was pinch-run by Crawford. Crawford moved to 2nd on Gittens’ 1-out walk and then scored on Stanton’s long single to cap off the Yankees’ scoring.
Final score: 8-5 Yankees
One to Watch: again, we’re at the stage of Spring Training when it’s difficult to isolate a single farm system guy to notice because they don’t really get much playing time. So I’m going to notice Rashad Crawford. Now, Crawford did hustle it around the bases, pinch-running for Gardner in the 7th. Crawford was something to watch last year, but he hasn’t had much playing time this year to show off his skills. His season batting average dipped a little last year after his promotion to AA Trenton, but that can be great for a competitive athlete, to push himself to do better than last season until you can take it to the next level. A good lesson for all of us, really.
Next up: The Yankees host the Rays again. CC Sabathia will start tomorrow night’s game, as the Yankees continue to hone their final roster and prepare for the opening series in Toronto in about 10 days.
Roster moves: before the game, the Yankees sent a couple of the players we’ve been talking about this Spring to minor league camp. Estevan Florial was reassigned to the camp, and Miguel Andujar was optioned to AAA Scranton. That means that Andujar will not be making the starting roster, but will likely be the first one they call up when something happens. Andujar will get to play daily and continue his skills to be ready for the day they tell him to hop a plane to the Bronx.
About 24 minutes after they sent Andujar down, the Yankees were presenting him with a special award. Every year, the Yankees award the Kevin Lawn Award for the minor league players in their farm system that were truly outstanding the previous year. For 2017, they named Andujar as “Player of the Year” and Domingo Acevedo as “Pitcher of the Year”.