Game 2: NYY vs. TOR — It’s #TanakaTime again

Thanks to the frigid lingering cold weather (about 38° at first pitch tonight), it was another roof closed game up in “Hogtown” (sorry, Toronto, but that one’s funny…). But that just made things comfortable for the Yankees to come in for Game 2 of this 4-game weekend series. Certainly Masahiro Tanaka had a great night to start for the Yankees, pitching just 79 pitches in his 6 innings, giving up just 3 hits and a run, and striking out 8 Blue Jays batters. His lone allowed run was a 1-out solo home run in the 2nd.

But once again, the Yankee batters found those crucial moments to come in and take command of the game. Didi Gregorius (who had a truly stellar offensive night) kicked off the 2nd with a beautiful triple but then was thrown out when Sanchez hit into a fielder’s choice. With 2 outs, Billy McKinney (more later) hit a solid single on his 1st major league at-bat, moving Sanchez to 2nd to score on a double by Brandon Drury (who also had a great night).

In the 4th, Gregorius led-off with a double. With 1 out, Walker walked (pun ignored), but then was the force out when McKinney hit into a short grounder or failed double play. Drury then singled home Gregorius to double the Yankee score. Didi again led-off the 6th and walked. He then moved to 2nd on Walker’s 1-out single. After Drury’s walk loaded up the bases, it would fall to Tyler Wade to make the difference in the game with a big double to score Gregorius and Walker. It would knock the Blue Jays’ starter out of the game.

That helped the Blue Jays as their bullpen kept the Yankees from adding to their lead. But they were up against the Yankee bullpen for the final third of the game, and some big guys weren’t about to give up their win easily. Tommy Kahnle powered through his 4 outs, and David Robertson only needed 5 pitches for his 2 to close out the 8th. Aroldis Chapman had a few struggles in the 9th. With 2 outs, he gave up consecutive doubles to score a final run for the home team, but all 3 of his outs were those wicked strikeouts.

Final score: 4-2 Yankees

Injury news: before the game today, the Yankees announced that they were putting Aaron Hicks on the 10-day disabled list due to a strained right intercostal muscle. (Had to look that one up! It’s the muscle collection right around rib cage.) Hicks said he needed just a few days, feeling something kind of tweaking during his at-bats yesterday. But the Yankees aren’t risking anything, even this early, and placed him on the DL as a precaution. Besides, they are stacked so deep in the depth chart that it’s ridiculous.

So, early this morning, Billy McKinney gets called into the Minor League complex’s Player Development offices. Instead of going home for Easter, McKinney is told to pack his passport and hop a plane to Toronto because he’s scheduled to start in left field (Gardner shift to center) and bat 7th. His first MLB at-bat was a solid single to right, and they saved that ball for him.

With Hicks now out, Ellsbury’s return (potentially April 6) could come into play with a modified Extended Spring after his oblique injury. Frazier is still easing back into baseball activities after his concussion. And again, it’s still early in the season.

Until then, let’s stay healthy, guys!

Go Yankees!

It’s almost time for “Play Ball!”

Okay, so another Spring Training is finally behind us, and there’s less than a day left until the 2018 regular season begins. The Yankees officially ended Spring Training with 18 wins, 13 losses, and 1 tie, with an average of .581 for the Spring. This landed them 4th in all the AL, 5th in the Grapefruit League, and 7th overall.

And oddly, this is a good thing. With a few notable exceptions (like the 2009 Yankees), most eventual World Series winners usually end up middle of the pack in Spring Training. Like last year, the Yankees finished the Spring at the top of the list but ended up falling short to the eventual champion Astros (who finished the Spring 15-15). The previous year’s winners, the Cubs finished with a losing Spring of 11-19 and their series opponents, the Indians, fared better with a finish of 18-12 (still 6th in the AL). In other words, where you finish in the Spring really doesn’t matter, but odds are, middle of the pack might fare better in the end.

But it’s a long season, and we’ve 162 games to go…

The Yankees released a tentative Opening Day lineup for tomorrow’s game, which could be a pretty good idea of where they’re going for the season, setting the tone for those 162 games to come.

  • Brett Gardner, left field
  • Aaron Judge, right field
  • Giancarlo Stanton, designated hitter
  • Gary Sanchez, catcher
  • Aaron Hicks, center field
  • Didi Gregorius, shortstop
  • Brandon Drury, 3rd base
  • Neil Walker, 2nd base
  • Tyler Austin, 1st base
  • Luis Severino, starting pitcher

With the Yankees recalling Tyler Austin, their 25-man roster is now set — starting pitchers Sonny Gray, Jordan Montgomery, CC Sabathia, Luis Severino, and Masahiro Tanaka; relievers Dellin Betances, Aroldis Chapman, Chad Green, Jonathan Holder, Tommy Kahnle, David Robertson, Chasen Shreve, and Adam Warren; catchers Austin Romine and Gary Sanchez; infielders Tyler Austin, Brandon Drury, Didi Gregorius, Ronald Torreyes, Tyler Wade, and Neil Walker; and outfielders Brett Gardner, Aaron Hicks, Aaron Judge, and Giancarlo Stanton.

Now, you might notice that there are significant names not on that list due to injuries, and the Yankees had to move them around to make room for active players. Greg Bird‘s ankle surgery on Tuesday went well, removing a spur that broke off the bone. Bird will be out at least 6-8 weeks and was moved to the 10-day disabled list retroactive to March 26 (the standard date coming out of Spring).

Jacoby Ellbsury lingers in Florida to get extended Spring Training, about 40-50 more at-bats after missing most of the Spring due to a strained oblique. The Yankees also placed him on the 10-day DL retroactive to March 26, but he will clearly be back in pinstripes before anyone else.

Clint Frazier, another outfielder, is still dealing with lingering issues from his concussion early in the Spring. But the good news is that he is back doing baseball activities and working back into a momentum that could put him on track to join the AAA Scranton team soon, though no set timetable has been set. The Yankees placed him on the 7-day disabled list retroactive to March 26.

Get healthy, guys, and stay healthy, rest of the guys! We’ve got 162 games to prove the talking heads right for once. If you haven’t heard, the “talking heads” have all proclaimed the Yankees as potential contenders for the postseason. I think the 2017 team surprised them with how far the Yankees (who they dismissed early in the Spring) went — Game 7 of the ALCS vs. Astros. And they’ve only upgraded since then.

But then again, it’s a long season… and Yankee Universe has good reasons to hope.

Go Yankees!

Spring Games 29 & 30: NYY vs. ATL & TOR vs. NYY — Double the win, double the fun

Okay, it was a busy day for the Yankees playing split squad games and dealing with a mix of changes and potential alterations to the lineup. A portion of the Yankees traveled over to face the Braves in Kissimmee (on Disney World property), and another portion stayed in Tampa to face off against the visiting the Blue Jays. They will play both teams later next week — the Braves in a final exhibition game in Atlanta on Monday night and the opening series in Toronto next weekend.

Game 1: Yankees at Braves
This game was oddly routine for most of the game this afternoon. Luis Severino got the start and gave up 2 hits, 2 walks, and 2 runs in his 5 innings, striking out 7 batters along the way. Oddly, all of his allowed hits, walks, and runs came in just the 4th inning. He gave up a single that scored on a big 2-run home run to get the Braves on the board. He then gave up 2 walks but then buckled down and got 2 strikeouts and a ground out to get out of the inning.

Chad Green had a great 6th inning, but then gave up a single in the 7th before the Yankees handed the ball to Adam Warren. A sacrifice bunt moved that runner to 2nd and later a 2-out single scored that runner, charged to Green. Warren came out for the first out of the 8th before handing things over to Ben Heller for a flawless 2 strikeouts. Cody Carroll then flew through the 9th inning. Overall, the Yankee pitchers collected an impressive 14 total strikeouts.

The Braves actually kept the score pretty tight and in their favor for most of the game. The Yankees got on the board first in the 4th, with Aaron Hicks’ lead-off solo home run and Ryan McBroom’s 1-out solo shot. After the Braves tied up the game and then took the lead by the top of the 7th, the Yankees didn’t get their next option until the 9th inning. And boy did they pounce. McBroom led-off with a walk, moved to 2nd on Aguilar’s single, and then scored on Gleyber Torres’ 2-out single to tie up the game.

Then Billy McKinney’s single then scored Aguilar to put the Yankee ahead, and a wild pitch moved runners to scoring position. Shane Robinson’s single scored Torres, and the Braves called for a new reliever to find that elusive 3rd out. But then Hendrix worked a walk to load the bases, and Francisco Diaz followed that up with a walk of his own to scored yet another run. Back to the top of the inning’s order, McBroom then hit a long single and 2 runners scored thanks in part to a throwing error.

Final score: 8-3 Yankees

Game 2: Blue Jays at Yankees
Meanwhile, back in Tampa, the game was anything but usual, with both teams going back and forth for much of the game. David Hale got the start with mixed results in his 3 innings. He gave up a 1-out single and a 2-out 2-run homer right in the 1st inning. In the 3rd, a lead-off single moved to 2nd on a ground out and then scored on a 2-out single.

The Yankee batters kept the score close though. In the 1st, with 2 outs, Stanton worked a walk and then scored as part of Didi Gregorius’ 2-run home run to tie up the game. In the 4th, Miguel Andujar worked a walk, stole 2nd, and then scored on Austin Romine’s long 2-out double that bounced off the center field wall (just inches from the top off the wall to be a home run).

Judge hit a 1-out single in the 5th and then scored with Giancarlo Stanton’s monster 2-run home run that dented the Pepsi sign on the top left of the big scoreboard in left field. In the 6th, they loaded up the bases with singles by Andujar and Florial and a walk to Romine. With 1 out, Brett Gardner hit a long sacrifice fly and scored Andujar. Then Rashad Crawford hit a solid double to scored Florial. That gave the Yankees a nice lead.

Giovanny Gallegos threw a strong 2 innings, before handing the ball to JP Feyereisen in the 6th. Feyereisen had a fairly strong 6th, despite giving up a 1-out solo shot. But the lead-off batter in the 7th hit a sharp comebacker that smacked Feyereisen’s hand. He was flexing it, and they let him continue. But he struggled with control (an oddity for the young prospect) for the rest of the inning — giving up a ground-rule double, a 2-RBI single, a double play, and a walk.

Young reliever Josh Rogers came on to finish off the 7th for Feyereisen and closed out that inning scoreless before plowing through the next 2 innings and keeping the Blue Jays from adding to their score and chipping away at the Yankees’ lead.

Oddly paralleling the other game, the Yankees had a rather big offensive inning at home. This one in the bottom of the 7th. They loaded up the bases with a single, an error, and a walk. Estevan Florial worked a walk to score a run before Erik Kratz powered a big bases-clearing, 3-run double. One out later, Zack Zehner hit a big 2-run home run off the black screen above center field. Despite loading up the bases and a pitching change, the Yankees weren’t able to add more to their score.

But they really didn’t need it.

Final score: 13-6 Yankees

Ones to Watch: for the final Spring Training nominees, we’ve got outfielder Rashad Crawford and pitcher Josh Rogers. Crawford is consistent in his defense, for a second Spring in a row, and his outstanding offense today (2 hits in 2 at-bats, 1 RBI) helped the Yankees power through toward victory. And the dominance of Rogers’ pitching helped keep the Blue Jays away, throwing 7 solid outs and earning the save in today’s game. Both young players (ages 24 and 23, respectively) are certainly worth keeping an eye on, with a call to the Bronx sometime in the near future.

Next up: the Yankees play their final Florida-based Spring Training game tomorrow afternoon in Port Charlotte against the Rays. It’s almost over, everyone. Opening Day is right around the corner.

Injury: Brandon Drury is nursing a bruised elbow, buying an elbow pad to be worn for all future at-bats, and being grateful there wasn’t something more serious that would deter him from playing in the opening series next week. And Greg Bird was scheduled to start the game against the Braves, but during batting practice, Bird felt a soreness in his foot. And what complicates things is that it’s the same area that troubled him for most of last season that hampered his play time. They are sending him to further testing, while crossing fingers and hoping for the best. The small advantage is the ridiculous depth the Yankees do have now — Tyler Austin, Neil Walker, and even Austin Romine can all play 1st if necessary.

Roster: before today’s games, the Yankees sent Domingo German down to AAA Scranton, effectively making Jonathan Holder the extra reliever the Yankees hope to carry into the season. More roster moves are expected this weekend before the Yankees leave for Atlanta, but most of the spots are now pretty set. And that alone should give everyone some really big hope for this season. They’re really good. Their back-ups are really good. This whole team could be something to watch this season.

Go Yankees!

{Media note: limited media available for the home game against the Blue Jays. It was amazing, so I’m sorry you won’t get to see it.}

Spring Game 23: MIA vs. NYY — #SevySharp, #ElGary, #FloridaIsHot

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”.

Go Yankees!

Spring Game 22: NYY vs. DET — No St. Patrick’s Day Luck for the Yankees this year

Since 2006, the Yankees have certainly had mixed luck on this day. Including today’s game, they’ve had 7 wins, 5 losses, and 1 rain out. Four of those games were against the Pirates (3 wins and a rain out), two against the Tigers, two vs. the Phillies (both losses), and one each against the Blue Jays, Astros, Rays, Red Sox, and Cardinals. In other words, there’s no consistency that superstitious people could possibly cling to. And today, you might need to drown your sorrows in that awful green beer or cry into your “I only wear green today” shirt. Despite being yet another beautiful day at the ball park, it was not a pleasant day at the ball park.

Masahiro Tanaka got the start in today’s game in Lakeland against the Tigers. He did not have the greatest outing only throwing into the 3rd inning. But of his 10 outs, 6 of them were solid strikeouts. The Tigers were just hitting a lot off Yankee pitchers today. The Tigers’ start power-hitter started things with a 2-out solo home run in the 1st inning. But then Tanaka breezed through the 2nd inning, so things were looking up. For a moment.

In the 3rd, Tanaka gave up a big 1-out triple that scored on a 2-run home run to give the Tigers the lead. The next batter made it to 1st safely on a wild pitch, despite striking out. After another out, Tanaka gave up his lone walk before a single scored another run for the Tigers. That was it for Tanaka, handing the ball over to prospect pitcher Cody Carroll. And despite loading up the bases with a walk, Carroll got himself out of that jam and safely through the 4th inning.

Domingo German got his shot for 2 relief innings, but had his own troubles today. In the 5th, he gave up a single that scored on a double. Another single moved runners to the corners, and one out later, a fielding error allowed another run to score. Then in the 6th, he loaded up the bases with a single, a ground out, and 2 walks before a sacrifice fly easily scored yet another run.

JP Feyereisen got his shot to struggle along with the rest of the pitchers today for the final 2 innings. In the 7th, he gave up a lead-off walk that scored as part of a 2-run home run to cap off the Tigers’ scoring. It’s worth noting that Feyereisen had 4 solid strikeouts (of his 6 total outs) and breezed his way through the 8th unscathed.

Actually, the statistics for both pitching staffs were nearly parallel — each gave up 10 hits, 4-6 walks, and 12-13 total strikeouts. But the biggest difference is that pesky runs scored stat. The Yankees actually got on the board in the 1st inning. Brandon Drury worked a 1-out walk, moved to 3rd on Bird’s double, and then scored on a balk. Bird later scored on Miguel Andujar’s single to give the Yankees an early lead they clearly couldn’t keep.

Though they certainly tried. Like in the 4th, Kratz led-off with a single, moved to 2nd on Torreyes’ walk, and then scored on Estevan Florial’s single, aided partly by a fielding error. Wade’s walk loaded up the bases, but the Yankees failed to capitalize on that opportunity. And far too many today.

Final score: 9-3 Tigers

Next up: The Yankees host the Marlins tomorrow (Sunday) afternoon behind Luis Severino.

And speaking of pitchers, the Yankees announced their starting rotation for the 2018 season. Luis Severino will be the official Opening Day starter when the Yankees play against the Blue Jays on March 29. The four game series there will feature Tanaka, Sabathia, and Gray for the other 3 games. That leaves Jordan Montgomery to start the home opener against the Rays on April 2. It is interesting the Yankees are looking at their youngest pitchers to fill these key roles. Perhaps, it’s a sign that the Yankees are leaning toward their strong young players.

Go Yankees!

Spring Game 15: NYM vs. NYY — Looming clouds didn’t stop the powerful Yankees

In stark contrast to nearly every other game so far this Spring, the sky was overcast and moody, a heavy feeling in the air with the incoming storm in the area that only cancelled one game (the Twins-Red Sox game in Fort Myers, about 90 minutes south of Tampa). But that certainly didn’t stop the New York teams from meeting at Steinbrenner Field this afternoon before a packed house of over 10,000 fans.

Luis Cessa got the start today and had a bit of a shaky time, ending in the loading the bases with 2 walks and a single in just the 2nd inning. So the Yankees turned to “Houdini”, aka David Robertson, who breezed his way through 2 strong strikeouts to keep the Mets scoreless. Aroldis Chapman had a strong 3rd inning, getting 2 solid strikeouts of his own. Dellin Betances came on for the 4th and allowed a lead-off single and then stole both 2nd and 3rd before scoring on the ground out.

Then going into the 5th inning, the Yankees took the field. And there was no pitcher. The in-between innings clock expired. And no pitcher. Aaron Boone walked over to the dugout from his spot and sent someone into the clubhouse. Apparently, Adam Warren (the next reliever on the list) was just beginning his warm-ups, and Betances was supposed to pitch into the 5th inning. So, Betances is half-way out of uniform when he’s told to suit up and get back on the field. Betances comes back out and pitches to one more batter, giving up a single. By then Warren was good to go, so Betances found his way back to the clubhouse again (after being rather razzed by his teammates on the way).

Warren actually closed out the 5th pretty well thanks to Romine’s stellar pick-off skills, getting 2 batters trying to advance. All three of Warren’s outs in the 6th were strikeouts, but in between, he got into a spot of trouble. He gave up a double that scored on a single up the middle. On that play, 2nd baseman (and top contender for that job) Tyler Wade dove for the ball just behind 2nd but fell on his glove wrong, twisting his wrist wrong. After a few moments and a visit from the medical team, Wade was escorted off the field, flexing his hurt wrist. It’s painful, but fine. He ended up just icing it and hopes to play in Monday’s game.

Reliever Chad Green came on for the 7th. He gave up a 1-out walk that ended up being a fielder’s choice out on a grounder. A wild pitch moved that runner to scoring position who scored on a single. Green then took the first 2 outs of the 8th, before handing the ball to side-arm James Reeves. Reeves kept the Mets scoreless into the 9th inning, but gave up a walk and a ground-rule double to put runners in scoring position. So they called on Jordan Foley, who threw one pitch to get the batter to pop out to 3rd to end the game.

After a lesser hitting game yesterday, the Yankees certainly made up for it today. They kicked off things in the 1st inning. Gardner and Judge each singled, but ended up in scoring position on a slow throw from the outfield. Then Stanton stepped up, but was hit by a pitch to load the bases. Brandon Drury hit a short single to keep those bases loaded and scored Gardner. Tyler Austin hit into a fielder’s choice at 2nd and made it safely to 1st as Judge scored another run. A double play ended that exciting 1st inning.

The 3rd inning looked briefly like a weird replay of the 1st. Gardner singled, and Judge doubled to land them both in scoring position (again). After an out, a ground out still scored the speedy Gardner. With 2 outs in the 5th, Judge worked a walk and then scored on Giancarlo Stanton hit a monster 2-run home run up the middle, his first homer of the year. In the 6th, with 2 outs, Peterson walked and ended up at 3rd on Torreyes’ double. After a pitching change, Kyle Holder doubled to score both runners to keep adding to the Yankees’ lead.

And in the 8th, Diaz led off with a single and moved to 3rd on Peterson’s single. Avelino’s fielder’s choice scored Diaz. Holder singled to load the bases, and Estevan Florial’s single scored Avelino, thanks in part to a fielding error, keeping the bases loaded. Shane Robinson’s sacrifice fly capped off the Yankees’ scoring this afternoon.

Final score: 10-3 Yankees

One to Watch: This was actually a fairly easy choice today. In the 6th, when Wade injured his wrist, Kyle Holder quickly jumped at the chance to make sure that Wade’s efficiency at 2nd didn’t leave a hole. In fact, Holder showed off his stellar defense for the rest of the game, rising to every occasion. Plus, he hit very well, going 2-for-2, with 1 run scored and 2 RBIs.

More camp cuts: Before today’s game, the Yankees optioned pitcher Domingo Acevedo AA Trenton and reassigned pitcher Brian Keller to minor league camp.

Before the game today, Brett Gardner was honored for his continued work with the Taylor Hooten Foundation, an organization that promotes athletics without performance-enhancing drugs. Gardner has been a charter member of its MLB players advisory board and is part of its 2018 campaign and PSA titled “It’s All Me”.

And on a funny note: before Giancarlo Stanton got his 1st homer of the year today, he fouled off a couple of hits. One flew straight back towards the press box and smacked into the window. And yes, it cracked. Previous years have seen cracked windows on the suites and executive offices on either side of and above the press box, forcing the Yankees to invest in shatter-proof windows. Perhaps it’s time for an upgrade for the press too. Gardner actually said it best though: “The press box? I can hit the press box. He needs to hit them in the other direction.” (And he did.)

Go Yankees!

Spring Game 7: NYY vs. PHI — #CCStrong, Baby Bombers alert!

Under more clear blue, sunny skies, fans scattered themselves across Spectrum Field in Clearwater, filling about three-quarters of the Phillies’ Spring home stadium, to watch the Yankees come for another visit. CC Sabathia got his Spring start this year, looking to duplicate (or even exceed) his 2017 success. And boy was today a good day for Sabathia. In his 2 innings, he dominated Phillies’ batters, getting 3 solid strikeouts and set himself up for the eventual win.

Domingo German came on in relief for Sabathia and breezed his way through the 3rd. He threw 3 solid innings with a single issue — a 1-out solo home run in the 4th to get the Phillies on the board. Wade LeBlanc had a bit of an issue in the 6th, giving up a double, a walk, a sacrifice bunt, and an RBI ground out before breezing his way through the 7th unscathed.

Actually, the best inning for Phillies’ batters was the 8th. It was also the worst for reliever Giovanny Gallegos. He gave up a lead-off single and 2 walks to load up the bases, with no outs. A big double scored 2 runs for the Phillies, again with no outs. So the Yankees went to their bullpen and called on the final pitcher of the afternoon Ben Heller for the final 6 outs, which he breezed through.

Meanwhile, the thing that really marked this game (and sent many Phillies fans home early) were the unending home runs by Yankee batters today — well, 5 in total. Miguel Andujar set the pace with a big lead-off 1st pitch solo home run in the 2nd. With 2 outs, Tyler Austin, Romine, and Cave then loaded up the bases, but an early pitching change ended Yankee hopes to add to their lead. That’s okay. Andujar came back in the 3rd and hit a 2-out home run to double the Yankees’ score, and that was his 4th just this Spring.

Then the rest of the team got in on the action. Brandon Drury led-off the 5th with his own solo home run, and Tyler Austin followed suit with a lead-off home run in the 6th. They changed things up a bit in the 7th as Estevan Florial narrowly missed a home run, smacking a long triple before scoring the first non-homer run on Ronald Torreyes’ sacrifice fly. But then it was back to business as usual when Billy McKinney hit a solo home run to cap off the Yankees’ scoring today.

Final score: 6-4 Yankees

Next up: the Yankees host the Braves tomorrow afternoon back at Steinbrenner Field in Tampa. Masahiro Tanaka is schedule to make his Spring debut, looking to repeat his 2017 Spring excellence and redeem his less-than-stellar 2017 regular season. (And in personal news, it’s supposed to be about 12° cooler for local fans, or back to a more tolerable normal temperature for Spring Training around here.)

Also, if you’re watching the farm system, it’s worth noting that the powers-that-be recently ranked the Yankees farm system and prospects at #6 overall. They were #2 last year but found themselves demoted due to how many prospects found themselves playing in the Bronx last year and no longer considered “prospects” (Frazier, Green, and Montgomery), as well as many who’ve been shipped off to other teams (Fowler, Kaprielian, and Mateo). But there are plenty of really good guys left — Andujar, Florial, and Gleyber Torres jump to mind. In other words, the farm system is so loaded that the future looks really good, regardless of how many players come and go.

Go Yankees!