Game 136: DET vs. NYY — A 2-hit wonder

The funny thing about baseball is that for all its statistics and numbers, it really just boils down to a lone stat — runs scored. Everything else ultimately is either for individual glory (or detriment). And this afternoon’s game in the Bronx was a great example of that. The Yankees, who ultimately won the game, only got 2 hits and 5 walks, while the Tigers worked 9 hits and just 1 walk off Yankee pitchers. The difference was simple — the Yankees scored just one more run and thus won the game.

Still, Masahiro Tanaka got the start this afternoon, throwing 96 pitches in 7 innings, giving up 7 hits, a walk, and just 1 run, striking out 6 Detroit batters to earn his 10th win this season. In fact, his terrible inning was in the top of the game. He gave up 3 consecutive singles to load up the bases before allowing a sacrifice fly to score just 1 run. Tanaka held the Tigers to that lone run for the rest of his outing.

Jonathan Holder had a better outing today, throwing just 8 pitches in the 8th inning, before Dellin Betances’ clean 9th inning closed out the game and helped deliver the victory to the home team.

As good as the Yankee pitchers were today, the Tigers’ starter and his relievers actually held the home team to those 2 hits. In fact, their starter held the Yankees hitless and scoreless through the first 4 innings, having a bit of a perfect game, with 7 big strikeouts. However, in the 5th, Miguel Andujar broke his streak with a walk to lead-off the inning. One out later, Gleyber Torres hit his 22nd homer, a 2-run home run into the left field seats to get the Yankees on the board and in the lead.

Despite such a great start, the Tigers opted to go to their bullpen right there in the middle of the 5th. That first reliever promptly loaded up the bases with 2 walks and a hit-by-pitch (welcome to the Bronx, Andrew McCutchen!), but then a pop-up left them stranded. And that would be the last good opportunity the Yankees would get all afternoon.

Final score: 2-1 Yankees

Speaking of the new guy, Andrew McCutchen, clean-shaven and wearing #26, led-off the game and played right field in his Yankees’ debut today. He also got his first foray as part of the famed Roll Call from the Bleacher Creatures, something that made his smile linger for most of the 1st inning. The veteran outfielder should be an easy fan favorite for the fans in the outfield bleachers, much like he was with his former team in Pittsburgh.

It’s September. And with the turn of the calendar page comes the September call-ups, where each team is allowed to expand its daily 25 player roster up to 40 active players. This nicely coincided with both recent trades of McCutchen and Adeiny Hechavarria. They also activated Gary Sanchez off the 10-day disabled list, fully recovered from his recent groin injury.

The Yankees also recalled infielder Tyler Wade and reliever Luis Cessa and selected the contract of reliever Stephen Tarpley from AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. And to make room on the 40-man roster for Tarpley, the Yankees opted to designate outfielder Shane Robinson for assignment.

Of course, that still leaves three big names on the Disabled List — Didi Gregorius (bruised heel), Aaron Judge (fractured wrist), and Aroldis Chapman (knee tendinitis). All three are actively receiving treatments, something the Yankees are hoping will bring them back sooner rather than later. But clearly the recent acquisitions are the Yankees’ way of shoring up their staff in case those lingering issues decide to linger a bit longer.

Go Yankees!

Game 135: DET vs. NYY — Late inning heroics, ejections, & MVP additions

There is always a lot of talk about the official trade deadline at the end of July, but there is another deadline just a month later that also shake up rosters in that final September push towards October baseball. And the Yankees weren’t exactly on the sidelines in this game either, but before I mix any more sports metaphors, they also had a game to play tonight.

Luis Severino got the start in this second of four games against the visiting Tigers and actually had a decent outing despite getting a no-decision tonight. He threw 102 pitches in his 6 innings, gave up 6 hits and 3 runs, and struck out an impressive 10 Detroit batters. A 2-out solo homer in the 4th got things started for the Tigers, and with runners at the corners in the 5th, a 2-out triple added a few more runs.

While the Yankee batters were held off for much of the game, they came back raring to go in the 6th. Romine led-off the inning and was allowed on base thanks to a sloppy fielding error, but he was thrown out on Torreyes’ grounder (and failed double play). Brett Gardner hit a monster 2-run home run to get the Yankees on the board, and 1 out later, Aaron Hicks hit the tying run, a solo home run deep into the right field seats. Miguel Andujar pushed the Yankees ahead with another solo home run into the left field seats.

But the Tigers took advantage of a pitching change and Jonathan Holder’s recent struggles to tie up the game, who gave up a couple of singles. Zach Britton came on to try to stem the Tigers’ attempt, but promptly gave up a single. The lead runner scored just before the other runner got tagged out trying to get to 3rd to end the inning. The game was tied again.

Britton continued on in the 8th inning and quickly loaded up the bases with 2 singles and a walk, but only allowed a sacrifice fly to score the go-ahead run for the Tigers before getting out of his own jam.

So, in the bottom of the 8th inning, the Yankees came back once again. Gardner led-off with a double, Hicks worked a 1-out walk, and Voit got a 2-out walk to load up the bases. The Tigers went back to their bullpen and that certainly helped the Yankees.

Gleyber Torres singled home both Gardner and Hicks, ending up at 2nd on the throw, and putting the Yankees back in the lead. The Tigers intentionally walked Walker to re-load up the bases before Austin Romine’s single scored that insurance run for the Yankees.

And David Robertson had a bit of issues in the 9th, but came through with 3 solid strikeouts to earn the save and close out the game.

Final score: 7-5 Yankees

Okay, so I went back and looked at the biggest contention of the game — the strike zone, which got both managers thrown out of the game at various points. Aaron Boone had enough of low balls being called strikes that he actually went out to the plate to prove his point, miming the difference between when a catcher catches a strike vs. when he catches a ball. Following some choice words, Boone was tossed in the 5th.

But then the Tigers’ manager found his way to the clubhouse in the 8th involuntarily after arguing a similar argument. To be fair, it was a little wonky tonight. It certainly was inconsistent. The first half of the game favored the Tigers, but then the second half (after Boone’s ejection) favored the Yankees. I mean, it’s frustrating enough when it’s a bad strike zone, but it’s tolerable when it’s at least consistent. That’s the issue here.

And in the much-talked-about news, the Yankees added a few new faces to the Yankees roster. Just tonight, they added infielder Adeiny Hechavarria in a trade with Pirates for a player to be named later or cash considerations. Hechavarria also played with the Marlins and Rays until joining the Pirates this season.

And last night, the Yankees really made a splash by picking up veteran outfielder Andrew McCutchen. “Cutch” was a popular player with the Pirates for years before joining the Giants this season. He had to shave his trademark goatee, but this former MVP will add the much-needed depth to the outfield with Judge still out with his wrist injury and Stanton battling lingering hamstring issues. But it doesn’t mean that they’re worried about the status of Judge, just that they now have enough power and defense regardless of who’s on the roster and who’s on the DL.

Go Yankees!

Game 134: DET vs. NYY — Stanton’s 300 was the only thing worth remembering

I feel like I should make a 300 or “Sparta” joke about tonight, but the history-buff part of me won’t rely on Hollywood’s interpretation of real events to sacrifice itself for the sake of a well-placed pun. Instead, tonight’s on-field battle was a lot like the popular movie — messy, gut-wrenching at times, and rather unreal in the end.

JA Happ got the start and really had himself the off-night. He threw 92 pitches into the 5th inning, gave up 10 hits and 5 runs, and struck out just 3 batters in tonight’s opener against the Tigers. And really, maybe the signs were all there as he gave up a solo home run to kick off tonight’s game.

In the 4th, with 1 out, a single stole 2nd, moved to 3rd on a wild pitch, and then scored as part of a 2-run home run. And a 1-out single in the 5th scored as part of a 2-run home run to double the Tigers’ score. After a couple more singles, Happ handed the ball over to Green, who was able to strike his way out of the inning and strand those runners, before coming back in for a clean 6th as well. Robertson and Britton each followed with their own clean innings to help give the Yankees a chance to take the lead.

And they did, in pieces. In the 3rd, Brett Gardner singled and then tried to make it all the way to 3rd on Hicks’ single but got thrown out there in a weird sort of fielder’s choice. But Giancarlo Stanton followed that up with a big 2-run home run into the right field seats, his 300th career home run. And the crowd urged him out for his first curtain call at Yankee Stadium.

After the Tigers re-took the lead in the top of the 4th, the Yankees answered back in the bottom of that inning. Voit led-off with a single and then scored as part of Gleyber Torres’ big 2-run home run. Then with 1 out in the 5th, Hicks singled and moved to 2nd on Stanton’s walk. With a new reliever, Miguel Andujar then singled home Hicks, thanks in part to a throwing error that delayed the throw for the out.

And in the 7th, Stanton hit a 1-out double, which helped Luke Voit when he hit a 2-out 2-run home run into Monument Park to break the tie and put the Yankees on top again. Torres then singled but was thrown out making the stretch for 2nd. The second occurrence of such a play tonight, leaving some wondering if the Tigers are just that good at defense or the Yankees were having an off-night with base-running.

Anyway, the Yankees needed just 3 outs to seal their win. Dellin Betances, who’s been having a great show on the mound lately, came on to pitch the 9th inning and ended his positive streak. With 1 out, he walked one batter and then gave up consecutive home runs to first tie up the game and then give the Tigers the lead. The Yankee batters were then stymied in the bottom of the inning with a quick 3 outs.

Final score: 8-7 Tigers

Stanton & 300: Stanton’s big home run in the 3rd comes with some fun trivia. He is the 5th fastest player to hit such a milestone, taking him 1,119 games to hit 300 homers (just 2 games behind Alex Rodriguez at 1,117 games). He’s also the 9th youngest player to hit 300 homers (at 28 years and 295 days old). (And yes, I had to figure out how many “days old” I am, and it’s math I found out I don’t like.) He’s been stuck on #299 for 12 days or 10 games. Next up: 400 homers and 2000 hits (currently at 1,104).

And some Yankee prospects are headed to the Arizona Fall League to represent the Yankee farm system and improve their baseball skills — pitchers Domingo Acevedo, Jordan Foley, Hobie Harris, and Matt Wivinis; infielders Thairo Estrada and Steven Sensely; and outfielder Estevan Florial. They will join other prospects from the farm systems of the Orioles, White Sox, Indians, and Dodgers to form the Glendale Desert Dogs when the season starts October 9. It’s an honor to be selected and play on an AFL team, something many current Yankees have done on their path to pinstripes.

Go Yankees!

Games 55 & 56: NYY vs. DET — Let’s split 2 and draft 2 catchers

If you recall back to April, the Yankees last visited Detroit for a 3-game series. They won the first game on Friday (April 13), the game on Saturday was rained out and postponed for a doubleheader on Sunday (April 15), and then both games were rained out on Sunday and pushed to today (June 4), as both team had a day-off between their own scheduled series. The Tigers were home after hosting the Blue Jays and then off to Boston, while the Yankees are flying between the rained out Baltimore and a short series in Toronto.

Game 1 — #SevySharp
Luis Severino is certainly putting up a great case to be considered for that Cy Young Award again this year. In the first game of today’s doubleheader, Severino was sharp as usual, throwing 112 pitches in his strong 8 innings, giving up just 4 hits and 2 runs (1 earned), and striking out 10 Detroit batters.

In the 1st, with 1 out, Severino gave up a single that scored on an RBI double. That would be the only earned run the Tigers got in that first game. Then in the 5th, with 2 outs, the next batter made it all the way to 2nd due to a throwing error before scoring on an RBI single.

The Tigers’ starter was really no match for Severino today. Gleyber Torres got the Yankees on the board in the 3rd with a 1-out solo home run. Greg Bird led off the 4th with his own solo home run. Then the Yankees found their momentum. Stanton and Gregorius each singled and then scored on singles by Miguel Andujar and Clint Frazier. Then Austin Romine smacked a big 3-run home run to ensure the Yankees’ win. All before an out was recorded that inning.

After 2 outs and a walk to Judge, the Tigers went to their bullpen, who had a better time at keeping the Yankees’ batters from adding to their big lead. But then the Tigers’ batter were up against Severino, and after those 8 innings, the Yankees turned to their bullpen for the last inning. Reliever Jonathan Holder had a bit of issues in the 9th. The lead-off batter made it to 1st on a fielding error and then scored on a double. After a fly out, the runner moved to 3rd on a ground out and then scored on a double. It was time to call in Aroldis Chapman for a 6-pitch strikeout for his 14th save.

Final score: 7-4 Yankees

Game 2 — Making up Jackie Robinson Day
Because this game was originally scheduled for April 15, or Jackie Robinson Day, the Yankees and Tigers made up the memorial as well as the game by all wearing #42 on their jerseys. Domingo German got the start and just was unable to really get a handle on the game as consistent as his counterpart in the first game. And still, he threw 95 pitches into the 7th inning, gave up 7 hits, 2 walks, and 4 runs, and struck out 3 batters.

In the 2nd, a lead-off double moved to 3rd on a passed ball and then later scored on sacrifice fly to get the Tigers on the board. A lead-off single in the 4th scored on an RBI double. That runner later scored on a 2-out double. Later in the 7th, with 2 outs, German gave up a double, and the Yankees went to their bullpen for Adam Warren to finish off the game. But he gave up a double that scored that final run for the Tigers. Then despite loading up the bases with 2 walks, Warren got out of that jam before giving a scoreless 8th inning.

The Tigers’ starter did better than his counterpart in the first game, but it still wasn’t the greatest outing. And yet, the Yankees just weren’t coming through, despite loading up those bases multiple times. In the 3rd, Clint Frazier hit a 1-out single and then scored easily on Brett Gardner’s triple. Later, Sanchez worked a 2-out walk and Stanton was hit by a pitch to load up the bases before the Tigers’ defense kicked in a got Gardner out at home on a baby grounder.

There was some talk in that inning about Stanton’s hit-by-a-pitch because the Tigers’ starter was the one who actually hit Stanton in the face in September 2014 when Stanton was with the Marlins and Fiers with the Brewers and the reason he wore a helmet with a face guard for years. The experience tonight shook Stanton up a bit and it caused some immediate tension, but then Stanton came back in the 6th with a huge lead-off solo home run.

The Yankees loaded up the bases again in that inning never got the chance to cross home again, and thus fell short in the 2nd game. Honestly, the Tigers’ bullpen outpitched the Yankees, with a total of 14 strikeouts.

Final score: 4-2 Tigers, meaning the Yankees win the original series 2-1 from April

Roster moves prior to today’s games: the Yankees sent Tommy Kahnle to AAA Scranton in order to reinstate Adam Warren from the DL and bring him into today’s doubleheader. Clint Frazier was also added as the 26th man just for the doubleheader, and he certainly helped the Yankees when called upon.

Next up: the Yankees head to Toronto for a short 2-game series there before heading back to NY. But they are scheduled for a 3-game weekend series at CitiField, so at least they get to sleep in their own beds.

And the annual amateur draft started tonight and will take place over the next 2 days. Each team selects one young player from a pool of high school and college students per round for 40 rounds, plus 2 auxiliary rounds following 1st and 2nd rounds as part of some off-season trades (but the Yankees didn’t get any picks for these special rounds).

The Yankees held pick #23 (the 1st round) and #61 (the 2nd round) overall. They selected 2 catchers — ambidextrous high school senior from Georgia Anthony Seigler and a sophomore from a Texas community college Josh Breaux. And the best part of that pick was having Yankees Draft Rep Nick Swisher say “Bro” at the official draft, something he says in his trademark speech patterns.

The Draft continues tomorrow with Rounds 3-10. It’s worth noting that some of the current Yankee stars were selected much further down in the Draft than you’d expect — Gardner (3rd), Betances (8th), Robertson (17th), Austin (13th), Bird (5th), and Montgomery (4th). So you never know where the next great Yankee is going to pop up.

Go Yankees!

 

Game 14: NYY vs. DET — Lucky Friday the 13th (not that I believe in any of that)

After the shake-up the Yankees got in Fenway, they needed a bit of a game like tonight in Detroit to sort them out. Jordan Montgomery got the start in the opening game in this weekend series against the Tigers. He threw 91 pitches into the 7th inning, giving up 5 hits and 3 runs, striking out just 4 batters. To be perfectly fair, he was actually really good at fending off the Tigers until a lead-off solo shot in the 5th broke the Tigers onto the scoreboard.

In the 7th, a lead-off single scored on a double and a rare throwing error. That was the end of Montgomery’s outing, and David Robertson came on in relief. But he had a night of rare trouble (for him). He gave up a sacrifice fly that scored the other runner Montgomery was responsible for. Then with 2 outs, Robertson gave up a double and single to put runners at the corners but getting that Houdini strike out to end the inning.

Dellin Betances got the 8th inning and then he had his own struggles. He gave up a lead-off home run to kick things off. A single moved to 2nd on a 1-out double and then scored on another single. A 2-out single then scored another run. So, the Yankees went back to their bullpen to get out of this inning with Chad Green, who took 5 pitches to get a solid strikeout to end the Tigers’ rally. Aroldis Chapman’s 3-strikeout 9th inning helped close out the game with some power.

Meanwhile, the Yankees collected their runs through the game, starting in the 2nd. Sanchez hit a 1-out double and then scored as part of Aaron Hicks’ inside-the-park home run, finishing with the best smile ever as he slid into home plate, by the way. (The first Yankee to do so since 2011.) In the 5th, Andujar led-off with a double, moved to 3rd on a ground out, and scored easily on Brett Gardner’s double. Gardner then scored on Aaron Judge’s single. Judge stole 2nd as part of a strikeout and then benefited from a sloppy throwing error on Didi Gregorius’ at-bat to score another run for the Yankees.

Aaron Hicks led-off the 6th with an into-the-stands home run, a real no-doubter into the right field seats. Fresh off the DL, and Hicks is hitting multi-homer games. And in the 8th, Andujar led-off with a triple and then scored on Ronald Torreyes’ single. After Gardner was hit by a pitch and Judge walked, the bases were loaded. Stanton hit into a little grounder that the lagging Tigers seemed to snap into action and get the out at home. After a pitching change, Gregorius hit into a sacrifice fly to scored Gardner to finish off the Yankee scoring tonight.

Final score: 8-6 Yankees

It’s worth noting that Aaron Judge, who went 1-for-4 tonight with a walk and RBI, is currently batting a whopping .340. Now, it’s hard to accurately judge averages this early in the season. But part of Judge’s average comes from the fact that he is currently on a hitting streak of 11 games after tonight’s RBI single in the 5th. Of course, he’s got a long way to go to catch Joe DiMaggio’s 56 game hitting streak, set back in 1941. But if anyone could do it, it very well could be Judge.

Go Yankees!

Spring Game 25: NYY vs. DET — Sad and soggy vernal equinox

Well, today is the official first day of Spring, though storms slamming the Northeast again and dropping over a foot in some areas certainly lead some to question that term. And here in Florida, we were slammed with our own Spring storm (that actually temporarily closed the airport) — some super heavy rain, a tornado watch, and strong winds. Some local residents are without power as a result, but the storm is continuing its march way across the state as I write this.

And the game between the Yankees and Tigers in Lakeland didn’t escape the storm, with a big deluge in the 5th inning. Two games closer to the Gulf Coast (in Clearwater and Sarasota) were called early or cancelled all together (respectively). The other games in Florida were played on the Atlantic Coast and escaped this afternoon’s mess. But in central Florida, the game played on.

Brady Lail got the start in today’s game, setting a pattern of less than stellar pitching that most of the Yankees’ pitchers certainly continued through this afternoon. In the 1st, Lail gave up consecutive walks that promptly scored on an RBI single and sacrifice fly to put the Tigers in the lead early. Ben Heller came on to finish the 2nd for Lail and kept them to that scored until the 4th inning where he found his own issues. He gave up a 1-out double that scored on a single, and after a double moved runners to scoring position, the Yankees went back to their bullpen again.

Cody Carroll came on to give up a single that scored both waiting runners to push the Tigers further in the lead. He gave up a 1-out solo home run in the 5th just as the rain really started dropped heavily over the open stadium. But despite giving up a couple of hits, Giovanny Gallegos had a scoreless 6th inning to shift the momentum, and JP Feyereisen continued this new wave with a scoreless 7th.

But then the 8th caused its own troubles again. Matt Frawley gave up a lead-off walk that scored on a long triple, and that runner then scored on a 1-out single. James Reeves came on in relief and got out of the inning with 2 strong strikeouts. In one of those weird statistical outcomes, the Yankee pitchers gave up 14 hits but also got 12 strikeouts.

Meanwhile, the Yankees actually got on the board first behind Tyler Wade’s lead-off triple in the 1st inning. Wade then scored easily on Neil Walker’s single. But the Yankees were held off for much of the game from advancing their score. With 2 outs in the 8th, Peterson singled to get on base, and pinch-hitter Jorge Saez smacked a monster 2-run home run up the middle to add a bit to the Yankees’ score. So far behind at this point, the Yankees eventually just ran out of innings for any chance of a comeback.

Final score: 8-3 Tigers

Next up: The Yankees return back to Tampa to host the Orioles tomorrow night. It’s set to be another chilly, dry night, which will be a nice break from the recent heat this week and today’s rather soggy weather. Luis Cessa is currently scheduled to start the game.

Tomorrow night, the Yankees will also formally announce plans for their 2018 HOPE Week (their 10th season). They will honor 5 individuals or organizations who have impacted their community over the week of June 11-15. To kick off this year’s events, they will honor Computer Mentors Group, a non-profit in the Tampa area that helps connect computer professionals with inner-city youth in a local mentorship program.

Another lighter note: The Yankees’ cheesy ads continue to be rolled out. This time, Dellin Betances and Aroldis Chapman will “bring the heat” in a parody of so many low-budget local repair ads. This one features cameos by Sanchez and fellow relievers Robertson, Kahnle, and Green. I am loving these ads by the way.

Go Yankees!

{Media note: no video today again. Is anyone else so ready for the season to start?}

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 18: DET vs. NYY — Falling short is breaking even in first Spring tie

If we were in a relegation league (like European football or soccer), a tie is an acceptable outcome because it still counts for a point. Basically, they run off a points collection system — a win is 3 points, a tie (or draw) is 1 point, and a loss is 0 points. At the end of the season, the bottom 2 teams are relegated to the next level lower and the top 2 teams of that level are promoted. Meanwhile, the four teams with the most points are automatically in the play-offs. (Disclosure: yes, I do also watch the Premier League or the soccer league in the United Kingdom. Sports fans are often diversified in their consumption, and it certainly fills the baseball off-season watching guys in shorts chase around a ball in the sometimes snowy fields around England.)

Anyway, in Spring Training, we don’t get any points for any games. So since the games don’t count and the points don’t matter, a tie is entirely possible. And after today’s game in Tampa, there have been a total of 20 ties so far in Spring Training in both Florida and Arizona. (Note: as of this posting, there are currently 6 in-progress or scheduled games for the rest of today.)

And truthfully, it was kind of the expected outcome on this lazy, cool Tuesday afternoon, under clear blue skies. CC Sabathia was certainly strong in his 4 inning outing today against the visiting Tigers. His lone allowed run was a 1-out solo shot in the 3rd inning, but mostly, Sabathia showed that he is continuing his momentum from his strong last season. From there, the rest of the pitching staff mostly continued that momentum for this game.

Adam Warren, Aroldis Chapman, David Robertson, and Chad Green each took an inning and kept the Tigers to their lone run. But then Giovanny Gallegos, who has had a patchy Spring this year, struggled a bit in the 9th. He gave up a lead-off single that moved to 2nd on a wild pitch and then scored on a long single. But then he buckled down with consecutive strikeouts and a line drive out to 2nd to escape the inning.

However, up until then, the Yankees were certainly just not hitting off the Tigers’ starting pitcher, a veteran starter formerly from the Nationals’ power-packed pitching staff. But then the relievers held off the Yankees’ hitters for most of the game. The Yankees only got 4 hits off Tigers’ pitchers in today’s game. They just really weren’t hitting well again.

It wasn’t until the 8th inning, when Didi Gregorius hit a lead-off big solo home run to tie up the game at that point. Aaron Hicks followed that with a single and moved to 2nd on a ground out. After Lind and Torres worked walks, the bases were loaded. Shane Robinson hit into a ground out at 2nd, but the Tigers were unable to turn two and Hicks scored. With runners on the corners, Robinson was caught stealing (maybe? those questionable calls resumed throughout today’s game too) and ended the rally.

Once the Tigers tied up the game in the top of the 9th, the Yankees had their last shot in the bottom 9th. Jeff Hendrix worked a lead-off walk, and in the process of stealing 2nd, he ended up all the way at 3rd thanks to a throwing error. Two outs later, Wade worked his own walk and then stole 2nd on defensive indifference, putting both runners in scoring position, but a dribbly ground out ended the inning and the game.

Final score: 2-2 tie

O2W: This one was a bit harder to choose today because we’ve reached the part of the season where the Yankees’ starters play longer in the game, giving the up-and-comers less of a chance to show off their stuff. I make it a point of not choosing a veteran, even one technically under a minor league contract like Adam Lind, who certainly showed off a bit today in his attempt to land a spot on the Opening Day roster. So, when I think back on the game, I was impressed with Jeff Hendrix‘s speed and base-running sharpness in that 9th inning today, certainly threatening the Tigers. He was able to read the situation well and respond to his best advantage. That’s a skill that worth watching at the very least.

Next up: the Yankees head down to Sarasota to face the Orioles tomorrow afternoon, one of the few games they’re not playing at Steinbrenner Field this week. Yankees’ prospect Chance Adams is on tap to start that game.

Roster move: after game, catcher Kyle Higashioka and Gleyber Torres were optioned to AAA Scranton and reassigned to minor league camp. With the addition of Walker to the infield competition, Torres will not be making the starting roster, which is really good for the young infielder. Torres can use his time in Scranton to really hone his skills and get himself ready for a potential mid-season call-up or even the 2019 roster. It worked out well for the likes of Judge and Sanchez (and even Jeter and Pettitte) to have some extra time in the minor leagues, so I believe that will work out well for Torres and many of the other guys that will join him over the next two weeks.

I know I said I wouldn’t talk about the standings again, but I have to just do a completely objective update, especially as the Yankees haven’t been as strong in recent games as they were earlier this Spring. Currently, the top 4 teams in baseball are the Astros, Cubs, Yankees, and Brewers — two AL and two NL teams, also two Florida and two Arizona teams. The Cubs have 11 wins, 4 losses, and 3 ties in 18 games (average: .733); the Astros have 13 wins, 5 losses, and 2 ties in 20 games (average: .722); the Yankees and Brewers each have 11 wins, 6 losses, and 1 tie in 18 games (average .647). No comment, just basic statistics, and a reminder that the games don’t count and the points don’t matter.

Go Yankees!

Spring Game 11: NYY vs. DET — Last chance power again saves the day

Giancarlo Stanton got a second chance in left field in today’s game in Lakeland against the Tigers, and had a pretty good afternoon. No sun distractions, no errors, a bit of a redemption day for the outfielder, who was drafted as a center fielder and moved to right to accommodate a teammate on the Marlins. Sunday’s home game against the Rays was the first time Stanton had ever professionally played in left field, but today’s game was the first time the Yankees can consider it worth considering a possibility for the veteran player. With five strong regular players (Stanton, Judge, Ellsbury, Gardner, and Hicks) and some stellar AAA level guys (like Frazier, Cave, and Austin), the outfield is busting at the seams with some of the best outfielders in the business. Flexibility will be key to juggling the 2018 outfielders, and also heavily weighted in case of injury.

Anyway, Jordan Montgomery got his third start of the Spring, pitching into the 4th inning, but struggling really only in the 2nd. With 1 out, he loaded the bases with 2 walks and a single, before another allowed walk scored the Tigers’ first run. Montgomery was able to keep the Tigers from doing much more than that in his tenure. Jonathan Holder came on in relief to close out the 4th and pitch through the 5th, but there he too had a spot of trouble. A ground-rule double led off the inning, moved to 3rd on a fly out, and then scored on a long single.

But then the Yankees’ pitchers breezed through the rest of the game, led by Chasen Shreve for 4 outs in the 6th and 7th. Cody Carroll finished off the 7th and threw into the 8th, all 3 of his outs were strong strikeouts. Trevor Lane’s 2 outs to finish the 8th continued the magic, and prospect JP Feyereisen gave up 2 baserunners, but kept the 9th inning scoreless thanks mostly to a great defense behind him.

Meanwhile, the Tigers’ pitchers really had both the most trouble and the most success against the Yankees’ batters — giving up 12 total hits but getting 14 total strikeouts. In the 4th, Stanton hit a 1-out double and then scored on Aaron Hicks’ single to tie up the game and get the Yankees on the board. With 2 outs in the 6th, Sanchez worked a walk, moved to 2nd on Hicks’ single, and then scored on Adam Lind’s single.

But it would be the final 2 innings that made the difference of the game. In the 8th, Tyler Austin led-off with a double and ended up at 3rd when Shane Robinson reached safely on a fielding error, and Kratz’s walk loaded up the bases. Estevan Florial hit into a ground out at 2nd, but allowed Austin to score and leave runners in the corners. In a cool double steal, Robinson scored and Florial moved to 2nd. And in the 9th, Wade made it all the way to 2nd due to a fielding error and ended up at 3rd on Torreyes’ single. Despite a stolen base getting Torreyes into scoring position, Billy McKinney smacked a big 3-run home run to clear the bases and solidify the Yankees’ win today.

Final score: 7-2 Yankees

Next up: the Yankees continue this away jaunt with a road trip to visit the Mets’ Spring home in Port St. Lucie. PSL is about 3 hours (160 miles) across the state on the Atlantic coast, about halfway between Melbourne and West Palm Beach. The Mets will visit Tampa on Saturday to return the favor for the regular season crosstown rivals.

Go Yankees!

{Media note: no broadcast, no available highlights to share. Sorry! McKinney is always wonderful to watch hit, so I imagine we’ll get another chance to showcase his upcoming power via video.}

Spring Game 6: DET vs. NYY — Streak ended, but not without a fight

Well, there was no way the Yankees were going to go undefeated this Spring. Or ever. Even the 1998 Yankees (one of the best team records ever) still lost 46 games. Of course, they also won 114 of them too, which is why they dominated the postseason and swept the Padres for the Series. Actually, after that messy game win yesterday the Yankees eked out, my first thought was that at some point, some team is going to be the team to break their win streak. And apparently, that would be today.

The Yankees hosted the Tigers this afternoon under mostly sunny, rather warm, vividly blue skies. Luis Cessa got the start in today’s game, dominating in his first 2 innings, but when he came back in the 3rd, he just couldn’t seem to get an out. Cessa gave up 2 singles before what should’ve been a routine double play turned into a messy throwing error, scoring the Tigers’ first run with 2 runners safely at 1st and 2nd. Which then came into play as the next batter hit a solid 3-run home run to put the Tigers into the lead.

That was it for Cessa’s afternoon, turning the game over to Adam Warren. Warren’s solid scoreless 9 outs put a lid on the advancing Tigers. Dellin Betances got his Spring debut today, coming out for the 6th inning. But he did not seem to be able to get a handle on the inning, giving up a lead-off walk that stole 2nd and a 2-out single scored one more run for the Tigers.

It wasn’t going to happen today, especially in the heat of the afternoon, so the Yankees went to Brady Lail for a strikeout to get out of the inning. Lail continued for a strong, scoreless 7th inning. Minor league reliever Will Carter got his shot in the 8th but got into his own set of trouble. With 1 out, he quickly loaded up the bases with a single and 2 walks. A dribbling ground out at 1st moved all the runners up, scoring yet another run for the Tigers.

Before I go on, I know it seems like the Tigers just beat up on the Yankees, and they kind of did at times. But the Yankees weren’t exactly just sitting on their laurels either. They actually kicked off the game with a pretty good 1st inning. With 2 outs, Stanton hit a single into shallow right field and would end up scoring as part of Gary Sanchez’s bit 2-run home run over the left field fence, clearing even the big scoreboard out there. (It was so powerful that the left fielder just kind of stood there and watched it sail far over his head and the wall.)

But once the Tigers got and increased their lead, the Yankees kept looking for their opportunity to catch up. And like most games, it wasn’t until later in the game, with all the replacement guys in play that they found their chance. In the bottom of the 8th, with 2 outs, Kratz was hit by a pitch and McBroom and Wade worked walks to load up the bases. After a much-needed pitching change, prospect Estevan Florial hit a solid single to scored Kratz and McBroom and put runners in the corners. Distracted by Florial stealing 2nd, the pitcher threw a messy wild pitch that scored Wade as Florial ended up all the way at 3rd, beating out the tag. Danny Espinosa then technically struck out, but due to another wild pitch, he made it safely to 1st as Florial came in to score the tying run for the Yankees. After Espinosa beat more than a few pick-off attempts, he stole 2nd where he was eventually picked off there for the final out of the very long inning.

Okay, so the game was tied going into the 9th inning, and the Yankees called on minor league reliever Michael King, who followed a few of his predecessors and had a really messy 9th inning. He gave up a lead-off walk and 2 singles to load up the bases. A big double broke the tie, scored 2 runners and left 2 in scoring position. With no outs, the Yankees went to their bullpen to call on Andrew Schwabb, who had a bit of a better outing. A sacrifice fly added one more run for the Tigers before Schwabb pitched himself out of the inning.

The Yankees made a last-minute rally attempt in the bottom of the 9th, loading the bases with 3 walks (and 1 out). But an infield fly rule became out #2 and a strikeout on a checked swing (though it clearly wasn’t) out #3 to end the rally, the inning, and the game. It’s worth noting the Tigers’ pitchers gave up only 5 hits, while the Yankees’ pitchers gave up 11 hits. And that’s a clear reflection of how they lost the game — too many allowed hits.

Final score: 9-6 Tigers

Next up: the Yankees start the month of March back in Clearwater against the Phillies tomorrow afternoon.

One to Watch: as if you couldn’t figure it out, today’s noteworthy player was Estevan Florial. An outfielder, Florial was the #3 prospect in the Yankees’ system in 2017, #44 overall in the MLB. Despite being just 20 and spending last year mostly with the Advanced-A Tampa Yankees, Florial is shaping into a very good player. Many of the long fly outs in the latter part of today’s game were fielded by him. So big hitter, excellent baserunner, great defender. What’s not to like? The biggest issue with the Yankees is that they have SO MANY really good outfielders. Florial won’t be ready for the big leagues this year, and that’s good news for him and everyone in front of him. It means he’ll be really fine-tuning those skills in the farm system once again to pounce whenever he will get the chance. My guess this far out? 2020-2021. That gives him 2-3 more solid seasons in Trenton and Scranton, making a huge splash and honing his potential into something up to the standard of what could be his fellow outfielder — Aaron Judge.

Go Yankees!