What a change moving Spring Training north 474 miles (about 7 hours) to Atlanta. And yes, “the Big Peach” is one of those random nicknames for the city. My apologies to the family and friends who reside there for such an awful nickname. But then again, I grew up in “the Big Guava“. Let’s just stop naming things after fruit. New York barely tolerates that; it’s not worth copying.
Anyway, along the drive to the city more commonly known (and rather ironic tonight) as “Hot-lanta”, the temperature dropped nearly 40-degrees, with first pitch tonight coming in on the thermostat at 47° F at SunTrust Park. The newest professional stadium in the MLB stable (opening just last year) hosted about half its capacity for the diehard fans willing to brave the cold and the eventual rain that plagued tonight’s match-up between the hometown Braves and the Yankees. But the faithful were treated to a pretty good game.
Sonny Gray got the start tonight, throwing 60 pitches in his 5 innings, giving up just 3 hits and a run and striking out 7 batters. His lone allowed run came in the 4th when a lead-off double moved to 3rd on a ground out and then scored on another one. Other than that, the Yankee pitchers held off the Braves’ battery for most of the game, with the bullpen showing off their fresh arms and breezing through most of Atlanta’s lineup — Kudos to Betances, Robertson, Holder, Heller, and Chapman who dominated tonight’s game and helped contribute to the impressive total of 14 strikeouts.
Meanwhile, the Yankees found moments in the Braves’ starter’s night to take advantage of. With 2 outs in the 1st, Stanton worked a walk and then scored as part of Didi Gregorius’ 2-run home run to get the Yankees on the board early. In the 3rd, Judge worked a 1-out walk and then scored with Giancarlo Stanton’s 2-run big home run to the 2nd deck in left field to double the Yankees’ lead.
The Braves’ starter came out of the game after struggling through his 3 innings, but the bullpen was much sharper, fending off the Yankees for much of the game at that point. Until the 8th inning. Trey Amburgey made it safely to 1st on a missed catch error and booked it to 2nd on a wild pitch. He then scored on Shane Robinson’s 2-out double to cap off the Yankees’ scoring with an unearned run.
Final score: 5-1 Yankees
This means that the Yankees finish the Spring 18-13-1 (or .581 season average). And I will be posting my reflections, the final standings, and a recap of Spring 2018 tomorrow. So check back for more.
Injury update: after seeing a foot specialist today, the Yankees announced that Greg Bird will undergo surgery tomorrow morning to remove a bone spur that has broken off outside his ankle. If you think that sounds painful, you’re right and it’s why he’s not been playing these last few games. He will need about 6-8 weeks of recovery following the surgery, thus starting another season on the DL. But the depth chart is stacked this year with the likes of Walker, Wade, Drury, Austin, and even Romine to cover while Bird gets healthy again.
Okay, first official 2018 game is this Thursday afternoon (3:37 PM EST). The Yankees kick off the season with a 4-game series in Toronto.