Game 158: NYY vs. TB — 12 inning pitching exhibition

The Yankees traveled to Florida for a 2-game series in Tropicana Field to face the Tampa Bay Rays. While the Yankees have secured their spot in the post-season as the AL East Champs, the Rays are still working for their chance in the wild card race.

Yankee pitchers were out in force tonight as the Tampa crowd witnessed outings from 11 New York pitchers. To start the game, Jordan Montgomery took the mound for 2 innings and faced 9 batters for 3 strikeouts, giving up 3 hits, but no runs. In the 3rd, Ben Heller took the mound, also facing 3 batters, giving up a single, but no runs.

CC Sabathia replaced Heller in the 4th inning for his first regular season appearance as a reliever. Sabathia threw 13 pitches to 3 batters for 3 outs, including 2 strike outs. In the 5th inning, Tarpley took the ball and gave up a home run to right field that tied the game, followed by a single that reached base safely, but was called out trying to steal 2nd.

Another pitching change in the 6th brought Lyons to the mound to face one batter for a walk. Lyons was then replaced by Luis Cessa who allowed 2 more walks to load the bases before a ground out ended the inning with no runs. Kahnle took the mound in the 7th for quick 3 outs, followed by Britton for another 3 up 3 down. In the 9th, Ottavino replaced Britton and threw 11 pitches to 3 batters for 3 outs.

With the score still tied 1-1, Green replaced Ottavino at the helm for the 10th and 11th innings, facing 6 batters for 6 outs, 5 of which were strikeouts. In the bottom of the 12th, Green was replaced by Cory Gearrin who gave up a lead-off home run that broke the tie in favor of Tampa Bay.

Yankee batters had several chances to score tonight, but even with 7 solid hits, only 1 run scored for New York. After a scoreless first 2 innings, the 3rd inning lead-off batter Cameron Maybin sent a solo home run to center field. But then the opportunities started stalling. Like in the 4th, Judge led off with a single infield grounder, but was left stranded when the next 3 batters failed to reach base, an unfortunate pattern the Yankees would continue in nearly every inning.

Stanton earned a walk in the 6th inning, and moved to 2nd when Gio Urshela was hit by pitch and awarded 1st, but, again, all runners were left stranded. With the score tied at the end of 9 innings, the game dragged on for 3 more innings. The Yankees had a couple more opportunities to break the tie in the top of the 12th inning, but they ended up stranding the base runners. A lead-off homer by the Rays in the bottom of the 12th finally ended the game and gave the game to Tampa Bay.

Final score: 2-1 Rays

CC Sabathia’s call to the mound tonight was his first appearance as a reliever in regular season play in his long career. But it wasn’t the first time ever as a reliever. The last time Sabathia had a reliever appearance was in Game 5 of the 2011 ALDS. In tonight’s game facing the Rays, Sabathia threw his 1700th strikeout as a Yankee, for a career record of 3091.

Injury update: Gio Urshela was hit by a pitch in the 6th inning and attempted to stay in the game before being replaced to have his sore hand checked. Thankfully, x-rays on his hand were negative except for a bad bruise.

Go Yankees!

Game 149: NYY vs. TOR — Even a butterfly couldn’t help in extras

For this weekend’s 3-game series, the Yankees traveled across the northern border to Toronto to meet the Blue Jays at Rogers Centre. Tonight’s game was long and grueling, tied for most of the innings as both teams battled for the win, even going into extra innings to battle it down to a walk-off.

Masahiro Tanaka took the mound for New York through 5 innings, giving up 8 hits and 4 runs, for a not so memorable start. Tanaka started well and quickly faced 3 batters for 3 outs.  In the 2nd, Tanaka gave up a home run to left field, and later, 2 singles and a double allowed 2 more runs in the 4th. And Tanaka gave up a double and a single that scored another run for Toronto in the 5th. Tanaka was replaced in the 6th by Tommy Kahnle who gave up a single, but no runs.

Adam Ottavino took over in the 7th. He gave up a single that moved to 2nd on a wild pitch. After a walk and fielder’s choice, runners were on the corners, but a balk moved the runners up and scored a run for the home team to tie up the game at that point. Zack Britton took strong command in the 8th for 3 quick outs, including a swinging strikeout and a rather close call with a butterfly. (Yes, a real live butterfly.)

Cessa came out for the 9th and 10th, and gave up a couple of singles, but allowed no runs, keeping the game tied. Tyler Lyons replaced Cessa for the 11th, facing 3 batters for 3 outs. But when Lyons remained on the mound in the 12th, things didn’t resolve in their favor. Lyons gave up a home run to the first batter of that inning, allowing a walk-off win for the Blue Jays.

Scoreless in the first 4 innings and behind by 3 runs in the 5th inning, New York bats finally came alive in a big way. Gardner doubled and then promptly scored on a double by Clint Frazier. A single to left by Austin Romine scored Frazier.

LeMahieu’s single on moved Romine to 2nd, and Torres hit into a fielder’s choice that left runners on the corners. Luke Voit then reached base on a fielder’s choice, scoring Romine to tie-up the game. And wild pitch moved the runners into scoring position so that Gio Urshela’s single allowed both Torres and Voit to score and jump the Yankees ahead.

After the Blue Jays evened up the score again by the 7th, the Yankees tried to break that tie through the rest of their game. And while they certainly had some great opportunities, they never were able to cross home pate again.

Final score: 6-5 Blue Jays, in 12 innings

Injury update: Good news for JA Happ. Sidelined with recurring bicep tendonitis, he is showing improvement since a cortisone shot. He is expected to return to the mound next week during the Yankees’ final home stand. And he could be joined by some other teammates working their way off the IL as well.

Roster moves: In the last week, the Yankees have activated pitchers Ben Heller and CC Sabathia from the IL, and both pitched pretty well this week too. They also put Mike Tauchman on the 10-day IL due to his calf strain. Stephen Tarpley began his rehab assignment with the AA Trenton Thunder on Tuesday before being activated back to the major league roster on Thursday. And they also designated reliever Adonis Rosa for assignment before outrighting him to AAA Scranton.

Finally, MLB is currently featuring the New York Yankees for their annual honoring of Hispanic Heritage Month. The story features several current and former players. Check out the video here.

Go Yankees!

Game 147 & 148: NYY vs. DET : Striped duel as the Pinstripes sweep the Tigers

After last night’s game was postponed due to rain, the Yankees met the Tigers today for a single-admission doubleheader in Detroit. Today’s duel gave New York their 97th win of the season, putting them in 1st place in the American League.

Game 1 (regularly scheduled game)
The Yankees sent JA Happ to the mound to start the game. Happ threw 99 pitches giving up 7 hits. After giving up a home run to right center field in the bottom of the 5th that allowed 2 runs, Chad Green took over and closed the inning with a pop out in foul territory near 1st base. Green secured 3 swift outs in the 6th, but in the 7th, gave up a triple that scored the runner on a ground out.

Ben Heller took to the mound in the 8th and struck out swinging the first batter, but gave up a homer to left followed by a walk and a single before retiring the inning on a fly ball out to center. Gearrin started the 9th inning and immediately gave up a double to right field, a call that was reviewed as a possible homer before being upheld as a double. Gearrin gave up a ground out and a walk before being replaced by Lyons who finished the 9th with a strike out swinging and a fly out to secure the Yankees a win.

The Yankees were first to score today when Judge reached base in the 1st inning on a fielding error and then scored on a Luke Voit 2-run home run to center field.  In the 3rd, Judge walked and scored again on another homer, this time hit by Edwin Encarnacion deep to left field, giving the Yankees a solid lead.

After a Detroit pitching change in the 7th, Aaron Judge walked, followed by a double that Voit sent down the right field line and moved Judge to 3rd. Gregorius was intentionally walked to load the bases. Judge then scored on a wild pitch, moving the other runners up. Cameron Maybin came to the plate and doubled to both score Voit and Gregorius to give the Yankees a good lead. Romine and Judge both singled in the 8th, and a single by Voit scored Romine. And Didi Gregorius tripled to score both Judge and Voit.

Final score: 10-4 Yankees

Game 2 (make-up of Sept. 11)
The second game of tonight’s two-game match-up in Detroit welcomed CC Sabathia back to the mound for New York, throwing 56 pitches into 4 strong innings against the Tigers. Sabathia set another milestone, surpassing Hall of Famer and former Braves’ ace John Smoltz on the strikeout list with his 3085th strikeout tonight in Detroit.

But in the 4th, Sabathia gave up a walk, a single, and a double that scored 2 runs. And with just 1 out, German came on in relief. He threw 50 pitches into the 8th, giving up just 2 hits in his scoreless outing. He gave up a single and hit a batter in the 8th, German was replaced by Tommy Kahnle who secured two outs on a double play by the infield to end the 8th inning. Kahnle was back in the 9th, but after a walk, a wild pitch, and a triple that scored a run, Aroldis Chapman was called in. Chapman allowed a single, but followed that up with a swinging strikeout and force out for another New York save and win.

First up for the Yankees in this second game of the day was LeMahieu, who singled and scored on an Aaron Judge’s home run for an early lead. In the 2nd, Mike Ford grounded a single to right and scored on a double line drive to right by DJ LeMahieu. With the Yankees in a slim lead in the 5th, a ground-rule double by Wade, followed by a single to center by Didi Gregorius that allowed Wade to score.

After 3 quiet innings that kept the Yankees in the lead, Voit sent a line drive single to left field and scored on a home run to left by Gio Urshela. Yankee pitching ended the game in the 9th despite a late charge by the Tigers.

Final score: 6-4 Yankees, Yankees win the series 2-1

Next up: The Yankees travel to Toronto to face another division rival this weekend before heading home for the final homestand of the season to host the Angels and Blue Jays. They will then close out their season visiting the Rays and Rangers on their way to the postseason.

Injury update: JA Happ left this afternoon’s game after throwing an impressive 99 pitches due to bicep tendonitis that has bothered him for his last few starts. Hopefully, this is just a cautionary move to check with the doctor before deciding when or if Happ is back on the mound.

Edwin Encarnacion also left today’s game, right after a walk due to a strain to his left oblique. He will head back to New York for further tests. And in the second game of this doubleheader, Gary Sanchez left the field in the 4th inning with tightness in his left groin possibly due to his stealing base in the 3rd. Sanchez was replaced by Higashioka. If Sanchez is sidelined for awhile, Romine and Higashioka will share playing time.

Finally, congratulations go to CC Sabathia for being nominated as the Yankee candidate for the 2019 Robert Clemente Award, given for sportsmanship, community involvement, and contribution to baseball. Sabathia is an easy nomination for this award between his career-long tenacity and teamwork on the field and passion for his community through his own foundation. The award winner, voted on by both fans and the media, will be announced during the World Series in October. (You can vote here for Sabathia.)

Go Yankees!

Game 82: NYY vs. BOS — London sweep to kick off second half

The Yankees technically split their season in half in London, ending their first 81 games with a win last night and starting their next 81 games with a win this afternoon. There’s rarely anything “normal” about rivalry games between the Yankees and Red Sox, but add in the weird stadium, 5 hours ahead in time zones, and 60,000 British fans, and there’s a whole new level of “not normal”.

London Stadium was originally built for the 2012 Summer Olympics to host the track and field competition before it was converted to be the home of the West Ham Football (Soccer) Club. The pitch (the field) was covered by imported turf from France, the padding to create the outfield space and boundaries of the diamond came from Canada, and the infield dirt was hauled in from Pennsylvania — a truly international experience.

For all the talk of the short outfield walls (just 385 feet to dead center field), the most complicated part for fielders were the way the sun came into the condensed oval, partially blocked by scaffolding to eliminate wind. This also, however, created very strange shadows and the glare of the sun off the dead white of the roofing. Both teams seemed to struggle both days with finding the ball when it was hit in the air. This certainly made the difference today when less of the balls were leaving the playing field and instead being popped up short.

The Yankees opted to go with an “opener” today, calling on reliever Stephen Tarpley to make his first MLB start. Between nerves and the unfamiliar setting, Tarpley struggled his way through that 1st inning. With 1 out, he gave up a single that scored on a 2-run home run. The next batter smacked a big solo home run, and one out later, the Red Sox got yet another solo home run to give them a nice early lead.

After a scoreless 1st for the Yankees (which seemed odd compared to the show yesterday) and the Red Sox coming in strong, the Yankees found their first opportunity to strike in the 2nd. They loaded up the bases with Encarnacion’s lead-off walk, Gregorius’ single, and Torres’ walk. Gio Urshela hit into a force out at 2nd that scored Encarnacion, and Brett Gardner’s single scored Gregorius to get the Yankees on the board, with half the Sox’s score.

Meanwhile, the game suddenly became fairly “normal”. The Red Sox’s starter was fairly dominant, throwing strong into the 6th inning and limiting the Yankees to their 2nd inning score. The Yankee relievers found a good momentum too. Cessa threw 4 strong scoreless innings before handing the ball to Adam Ottavino for a quick 11-pitch 6th, and Kahnle followed that will an 11-pitch 7th.

The Yankees finally found their next chance to advance in the 7th. LeMahieu led-off with a double, and after Judge’s walk, LeMahieu scored on Aaron Hicks’ double. Gary Sanchez’s long single scored both Judge and Hicks to put the Yankees in the lead. With no outs, the Sox went to their bullpen. The new reliever promptly walked Encarnacion and gave up a 1-out single to Torres to load up the bases. And Gio Urshela singled home both Sanchez and Encarnacion.

But that’s not all. With another new reliever on the mound, Brett Gardner worked a walk to load the bases, and DJ LeMahieu smacked a ground-rule double into the right field seats to score Torres and Urshela. Judge was intentionally walked to load the bases yet again. Aaron Hicks’ sacrifice fly scored Gardner, and a fielding error on Gary Sanchez’s at-bat scored LeMahieu. The Yankees sent up 14 batters that frame alone and scored a season-high 9 runs.

Finally, Didi Gregorius led-off the 8th with a solo home run. This kept the Yankees’ streak alive with 31 consecutive games with a home run. Now, with an 8-run lead, the Yankees needed to just keep the status quo and sail to the end of the game. But no way were the Red Sox going to go quietly into the night.

Yankees’ reliever Chance Adams came in for the 8th, but he really had some trouble keeping those Red Sox’s bats quiet. With 1 out, he gave up consecutive singles. After another out, a wild pitch moved runners into scoring position which they did on another single. After yet another single, a double into the corner scored the lead runner. That would be it for Adams.

Zack Britton came in to try to stop the Sox’s advance, but he gave up a single that scored one more run. Still looking for that final out of the inning, he ended up walking the next batter and loading up the bases. The tying run coming to the plate, Britton dug deep and got a grounder to end the inning and get out of the jam, owing much of his success, like many of today’s pitchers, to the stellar defense today. (See the snazzy Gregorius-led defense here and here.) Despite a lead-off single, Chapman got 3 great strikeouts to close out the 9th and the game.

Final score: 12-8 Yankees, Yankees sweep series 2-0

London Trivia: Today’s game was much shorter than the marathon of last night’s nutsy show, and yet there was still 9 hours and 6 minutes of total game time. Together, both teams scored 50 runs, 9 of them home runs, and collected 65 total hits. And they will be thankful for tomorrow’s off-day as they collectively went through 30 pitchers in just 2 games.

Next up: The Yankees will need that off-day tomorrow after traveling home from the UK. On Tuesday, they begin a quick 2-game series in Queens at the Mets. Then, they’ll be back in the Tampa area to face the Rays for a 4-game weekend series before the All-Star Break. Following the break, the Yankees will begin their official second half of the 2019 season with a long homestand.

Roster moves: The Yankees played a little with the loophole in the roster for this travel series, optioning Nestor Cortes Jr and recalling Chance Adams, who came to London as part of the “taxi squad” just in case he was needed. And clearly, he was, though I doubt he’ll look back fondly at his outing. Even with the off-day tomorrow, with the depletion of the bullpen, I imagine there will be further moves once the Yankees are back stateside.

Injury update: The Yankees also sent reliever Ben Heller to AAA Scranton to begin his rehab assignment. Heller had surgery on his right elbow earlier this year. And Luke Voit was missing from today’s game roster though he was present and ready off the bench if needed. He said he felt much better after feeling some core tightness during yesterday’s game.

All-Star Roster Update: As you know, the Yankees have two starters on the All-Star Game roster this year. Gary Sanchez will be the starting catcher, and DJ LeMahieu will be the starting 2nd baseman for the AL team. Joining them in Cleveland this year is Yankees closer Aroldis Chapman. This will be Chapman’s 6th All-Star Game, LeMahieu’s 3rd, and Sanchez’s 2nd.

Chapman himself noted, “To me, I thought we were going to have six or seven All-Stars from this team. It’s a little surprising.” Yes, it is. I think a lot of us in Yankee Universe were expecting that maybe those who fell short in the final vote last week might get a second chance as part of the reserves, like Voit, Urshela, Torres, and Judge.

While all 3 All-Stars this year will represent the Yankees well, it is hard not to wish the team currently sitting atop the AL in the standings isn’t better represented in this year’s Midsummer Classic. I guess, they will just have to show everyone what they missed in July by an outstanding performance in October. Besides, that’s the stat that really matters in the end.

Go Yankees!

Game 9: BAL vs. NYY — It may be chilly once again, but it’s always “Sonny” when the bats work.

Well, it seems like just a few hours ago we were talking baseball. Because it was literally just hours ago when last night’s game finally came to a close after 14 innings. But it didn’t seem like it shook the Yankees’ efforts all that much today. In fact, the windy chill of the air in the neighborhood of 42° at first pitch was much more of an issue than lack of sleep for both the Yankees and the Orioles in the third game of this 4-game weekend series.

Neither seemed to faze starter Sonny Gray, who gave the Yankees a strong 6 innings. Throwing 86 pitches, he gave up 4 hits, 2 walks, and 3 runs, and struck out just 4 Baltimore batters. In the 3rd, a 2-out single joined the lead-off walk on the base paths, and both scored on a long double to get the O’s on the board. With 2 outs in the 4th, a single then scored on an RBI double to cap off the Orioles’ scoring today.

Adam Warren struggled a bit in the 7th, giving up 2 hits and only getting 1 out, but then David Robertson came in to work his “Houdini” magic, and blast through the next 5 outs, 4 of which were unbelievable strikeouts. Because it’s standard David Robertson. Luis Cessa came on to close out the 8th with a quick 3 outs in just 10 pitches.

Meanwhile, the Yankees offense didn’t seem to realize it was missing hours of sleep, racking up 11 total hits and 7 walks over this afternoon. Andujar led-off the 2nd with a single (his first of the season), moved to 2nd on a ground out, but then was thrown out at 3rd on a fielder’s choice Romine hit into. Romine would move to 3rd on Torreyes’ double before they both scored on Brett Gardner’s single. Down by a run, in the 5th with 1 out, Torreyes singled, moved to 2nd on Gardner’s walk, hustled to 3rd on a wild pitch, and then scored on Aaron Judge’s ground out to tie up the game.

But the Yankees weren’t going to let this game go. Gregorius led off the 6th with walk, ended up at 3rd on Austin’s single, and then scored on Miguel Andujar’s sacrifice fly. Tyler Austin later scored on Austin Romine’s single (thanks to a miscommunication of fielders). And in the 7th, Gardner led-off with a walk and then scored on Aaron Judge’s double. Judge moved to 3rd on a fly out before the Orioles intentionally walked Gregorius. Gregorius promptly stole 2nd, which they would need as both runners scored on Tyler Austin’s single.

Final score: 8-3 Yankees

After all the injuries yesterday, we all knew roster moves were inevtiable. Today, the Yankees made their moves. They placed Brandon Drury on the 10-day disabled list with his severe migraines, something he apparently has struggled with for about six years. They also placed CC Sabathia on the 10-day disabled list with right hip strain due to his hip soreness during his shortened outing last night. He will probably only miss one start, but the Yankees aren’t taking any chances with their veteran starter.

But then in their place, the Yankees had to make further movies. They optioned Jonathan Holder to AAA Scranton after his 42-pitch outing last night. They selected the contract of infielder Jace Peterson (who actually made the start in the outfield today and did a really good job). They also recalled pitchers Domingo German and Luis Cessa (who pitched a flawless 9th today) to fill out their depleted bullpen.

And in other injury news: the Yankees announced that reliever Ben Heller underwent Tommy John surgery yesterday after being shelved from baseball activities initially due to a bone spur in his throwing elbow. Surgery soon became inevitable, so they transferred him to the 60-day DL this week. He will be looking at that 12-18 month recovery period, with an eye on sometime early in the 2019 season with a return to the mound.

There was a rather moving piece featuring today’s starter in the recent edition of Yankees Magazine (which also serves as the game day program at Yankee Stadium). It’s worth the read, especially for those of you in Yankee Universe less familiar with what kind of player and man Sonny Gray is. He’s clearly been a good addition to the rotation and the clubhouse, and hopefully, he will continue to make his mark with the Yankees for seasons to come.

Go Yankees!

Game 5: TB vs. NYY — Delayed Home Opener, rainy, wind chills, & Didi

The problem with April games is that winter isn’t always ready to give way to the boys of summer. So when it lingers long enough to drop a large amount of snow on the stadium on what should be Opening Day, the grounds crew spent yesterday clearing a layer of the white stuff off the field and resetting it for a postponed game. But it wasn’t exactly a better option, with the City spending most of the day (and tomorrow) soaking wet from the rain.

That meant the first pitch was delayed an additional 15 minutes and the pre-game festivities were modified or scrapped altogether. But no worries, rather reminiscent to the snowy start to the 1996 season, the game played on, and the Yankees powered through, despite some strong attempts by the visiting Rays to do stop them.

Jordan Montgomery got the start, a rather big responsibility for the young starter, but he continues to prove how necessary he is to the rotation. He threw 80 pitches in his 5 innings, allowing only 2 hit, 4 walks, and a run, and striking out just 4 Rays batters. In the 3rd, he gave up a single and a walk before a fielder’s choice put runners in the corners. A throwing error allowed another batter to reach base as the lead runner scored the Rays’ first run. The next batter hit a long fly ball to center where Brett Gardner fired it in to get the runner out at home for a fantastic double play. (We always say, “Don’t run on Gary!” but we should add “Don’t run on Gardy!” too.)

Jonathan Holder came on in relief in the 6th but really struggled his way through. After a quick strikeout, he then gave up a double and a single to put runners on the corners. A single scored one run and another single loaded up the bases. Now in a jam, the Yankees turned to Tommy Kahnle, who got a strikeout before giving up a 2-RBI double. Kahnle’s 7th inning went better setting up the rest of the bullpen — Robertson and Shreve — who blasted through the Rays’ lineup to close out the game.

In the mean time, the Yankees faced the Rays’ starter, who clearly had a less than ideal day thanks to a very particular Yankee, a Yankee who has Rays’ pitchers’ numbers today. Didi Gregorius led-off the 2nd with a double, moved to 2nd on Walker’s 1-out walk, and then scored on Tyler Wade’s 2-out single. Then, in the 3rd, Gardner and Judge each singled, and then Didi Gregorius smacked a big 3-run home run to put the Yankees in the lead.

But with the game tied in the 6th, the Yankees found another opportunity to advance in the bottom of the 7th. Tyler Austin led-off with a double. Brett Gardner hit into a sacrifice bunt, but made it safely all the way to 2nd thanks to a throwing error that also scored Austin. Judge then singled to get on base, and 1-out later, it would be Didi Gregorius to hit his 2nd 3-run home run of the game to put the Yankees back in a commanding lead.

That wasn’t all. With 1 out, Wade and Austin both worked walks, and after a pitching change, Gardner singled to load up the bases. A walk to Aaron Judge scored Wade, before a 2-out single to (who else?) Didi Gregorius scored Austin and Gardner to ensure the Yankee victory.

Not a bad way to start the Yankees’ home season.

Final score: 11-4 Yankees

Injury update: Jacoby Ellsbury’s comeback is now pushed back thanks to a hip injury. Ellsbury was recovering well from his oblique injury incurred during Spring Training, but now, it looks like he’ll be sidelined a bit longer now. We’re likely to see Aaron Hicks about April 10 if he can stay healthy. Fingers and toes crossed, everyone.

And minor league reliever Ben Heller was moved to the 60-day DL (effectively taking him off the 40-man roster) due to a bone spur in his right elbow. This made room for the Yankees to claim outfielder Trayce Thompson off waivers from the Dodgers. If there’s any further setbacks, calling up Thompson is a real possibility.

Happy Home Opener, Yankee Universe!

Go Yankees!

Spring Game 32: NYY vs. ATL — Chilly, soggy Monday in “The Big Peach”

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.

Go Yankees!