Call it late-season fatigue, if you will. Call it just a last-ditch effort to show off for the scouts. Or just call it just an off-day. It started out great and just collapsed half-way through the game and never recovered. Also known in most suburban households as “Saturday afternoon”.
Again, thing started well for the Yankees. In the bottom of the 1st, with 2 outs, Stanton’s walk and Andujar’s double put them in scoring position. But Gleyber Torres’ big 3-run home run into the left field seats made it easy to do so. The Yankees spent the rest of the afternoon trying to hold onto that lead and defend it, something they just didn’t end up doing at all.
Masahiro Tanaka got the start for the Yankees, throwing a solid 2 innings in preparation for being the starting pitcher for the Home Opener next Thursday in the Bronx. He was sharp and looked like the Tanaka that commands “Tanaka Time”, so keep the faith, Yankee fans. Chapman had some trouble in the 3rd loading up the bases, but Chad Green came in and just nailed down the inning before carrying that momentum through a scoreless 4th. Even Holder got in on the fun with his own scoreless 5th.
But it was the new guy that would get the Yankees into some trouble today. Gio Gonzalez has only been facing high school and college athletes this off-season, so maybe there wasn’t enough preparation for the veteran pitcher to fight off what is essentially the Blue Jays’ AAA squad this afternoon.
In the 6th, with 1 out, Gonzalez gave up a walk and a 2-run home run to get the Jays on the board and trim the Yankees’ lead down to just 1 run. Things were looking up, but his 7th inning was just messy. With 1 out, he loaded up the bases with a hit-by-pitch, a walk, and a single. After getting a line drive out (thanks to some snazzy defense), a single and sloppy throwing error allowed all 3 runners to score and the Jays to take the lead.
Minor league reliever Kriske came on for a clean 8th but loaded up the bases again in the 9th with a double and 2 walks. Bristo came on in relief, but his first batter hit a long sacrifice fly to right field. That play combined with a slow relay allowed 2 runners to score and the other runner to make it all the way to 3rd. I don’t think I’ve ever seen 2 runs score on a sacrifice fly. It left everyone scratching their heads, which could really be the latter half of today’s game.
Final score: 7-3 Blue Jays
One to Watch: Admittedly, it really wasn’t a great day for any of the minor leaguers, so instead I will recognize pitcher Stephen Tarpley. Tarpley was honored with this year’s James P. Dawson Award for being the best rookie in camp. Tarpley has been really consistent on the mound throughout the Spring and certainly deserves the honor.
Next up: The Yankees play their final Florida-based Spring game in Fort Myers tomorrow against the Twins. They will then travel up to D.C. to play a final exhibition game on Monday night before their Home Opener on Thursday.
Roster moves: As the Yankees finalize their rosters, they are looking at the weird injury list that seem to plague their roster early this year. Before the game, the Yankees optioned pitcher Jonathan Loaisiga to AAA Scranton, with anticipation of a weird switcheroo with Sabathia and his injury and suspension flooding the first bit of the season.
And they traded pitcher Phillip Diehl for utility outfielder Mike Tauchman from the Rockies. Neither player seemed too happy about it, having spent their respective Springs building relationship with what they thought was their teammates. It will be said to see Diehl go, but hopefully Tauchman can help with the injuries still bothering Ellsbury, Hicks, and to some extent Frazier.
Expect a few more tweaks over the next few days as they winnow down to that perfect 25 and 40 before Thursday.