Spring Game 17: BAL vs. NYY — Definitely not a rout, a come-from-behind victory

Another cool night at Steinbrenner Field under the light watching the Yankees take on a divisional rival and battle it all the way to the end. It certainly didn’t lean in favor of the home team for much of the game, but it certainly wasn’t terrible. A hostile fan nearby even commented that he was upset over the Yankees’ “rout”. Which was a complete misnomer. The Yankees were behind, but only by 3 runs, still in “save” territory. It was never a rout. A rout is when one team beats the other by ridiculous scoring — like the 2007 Rangers defeating the Orioles 30-3.

Jonathan Loaisiga got the start for the Yankees tonight against the visiting Orioles and got roughed up a bit in his 2 innings. A lead-off walk moved to 2nd on a sacrifice bunt and then stole 3rd. A bad throwing error on that steal allowed the runner to score easily. But then he got 3 strikeouts in a row into the 2nd inning. Three consecutive singles scored one run, and a 2-out walk loaded up the bases. All three runners scored on a big double, and that runner scored on an RBI single.

Zack Britton came in to settle things down for the Yankees, nearly sailing through his 2 innings. Chapman and Green followed suit, each with a strong inning of their own. Jonathan Holder’s 7th would have been perfect except for a 2-out solo home run that allowed the Orioles to get one more run in tonight. Tarpley’s stint in the final 2 innings kept the O’s from adding any more.

The Yankees were definitely hitting far more than the Orioles, collecting 14 total hits tonight and spreading them out over the game. In the 1st, Gardner led-off with a walk and scored as part of Aaron Judge’s solid 2-run home run to get the Yankees on the board, and at that point, narrowly ahead of the Orioles.

In the 4th, down by those aforementioned 3 runs, with 1 out, Tulowitzki made it safely to 1st thanks to a bad throwing error. After another out, Brett Gardner smacked a 2-run home run to edge the Yankees closer to the leading Orioles. With 2 outs in the 5th, Andujar singled, was pinch-run by Wade, moved to 3rd on Sanchez’s single, and then scored on Greg Bird’s single.

As a sort of final ditch effort, the Yankees used a veteran pitcher’s off-day to their advantage in the 8th. Kyle Higashioka led-off with a big solo home run over the left field concourse. Then Saez’s single, Kyle Holder’s hit-by-pitch, and Florial’s 1-out single loaded the bases. The remaining fans were electrified, and all those organic chants and cheering were almost deafening at time.

Trey Amburgey works his way through a walk for Saez to score the tying run and keep the bases loaded. After a pitching change, Clint Frazier smacked a long sacrifice fly that scored the winning run — Kyle Holder.

Final score: 8-7 Yankees

One to Watch: I’m giving it again to Kyle Holder. Tonight, his defense at short stop was just outstanding. He was always where he needed to be to keep the Orioles from adding to their score in the latter part of the game. Plus, he got the honor of scoring the winning run. He’s just something to watch all Spring so far.

Next up: The Yankees will host the Phillies tomorrow night, with back-to-back home night games.

Roster moves: Every Spring, the Yankees always invite all 40 players on their regular roster. Plus, the ask members of the Yankees organization from around the minor leagues to come to camp and work out with the 40-man roster. In the process, those extra players get re-assigned to various minor league teams for the season, and some of the slots on the 40-man might shake up a bit.

So, last week, the cuts, options, and reassignments began. Lockers were emptied and players sent to minor league camp (that happens privately and simultaneously to the public Spring Training). Last Wednesday, the Yankees optioned pitcher Domingo Acevedo to AA Trenton and reassigned pitchers Brady Lail and Trevor Stephan to minor league camp.

Sunday, they optioned pitcher Albert Abreu to AA Trenton. And before today’s game, they optioned pitchers Chance Adams and Joe Harvey to AAA Scranton and reassigned pitchers Cale Coshow and Danny Farquhar and catcher Kellin Deglan to minor league camp. Then after tonight’s game, they optioned Thairo Estrado to AAA Scranton and reassigned Trey Amburgey and Mike Ford to minor league camp.

Many of these faces I expect we’ll see again, maybe even this Spring in the case of split squad games.

Go Yankees!

{Media note: Again, the later great plays are missing again in the available video highlights for you. My apologies.}

Spring Game 4: NYY vs. DET — More rain shortens rough game

The same front that washed out yesterday’s game continues to bring further bands of rain through the area and ended up shortening today’s game. And part of me thinks this might have been a relief for the Yankees, who were just getting roughed up today.

The Yankees traveled about 40 minutes east to visit the Tigers’ Spring home field in Lakeland, and things started like they have for the last 3 games — with the Yankees hitting first and hard. Hicks led-off the game with a double, and Voit worked a 1-out walk. Miguel Andujar hit a baby grounder, but a throwing error only allowed the Tigers to get the out at 2nd as Hicks spend his way home to score the first run. Torres then singled, and Greg Bird hit a big 3-run home run to give the Yankees a nice early lead.

But today’s starter Chance Adams just couldn’t find his pitches and didn’t even make it out of the first inning. He gave up a walk and single that both scored on a double. A double and triple easily scored 2 more runs before Adams finally got an out, an easy ground out. Brady Lail struggled a bit to get out of the inning, when a single scored Adams’ final runner, but then a beautiful double play closed the exhausting inning.

After an easier 2nd, Domingo Acevedo found his own set of struggles in the 3rd inning. With 2 outs, he loaded up the bases with a single, walk, and hit-by-pitch before giving up a walk to easily score the lead runner. The next batter promptly smacked a big grand slam to ensure the Yankees were overwhelmed by the home team today.

Despite starting the game with blue, sunny skies, the storm front crept its way across the area and clouded up the previous beautiful vista. And then it started raining. A bit too hard. So they brought out the tarp in the 6th inning and delayed the game for 16 minutes.

The rain cleared, and play resumed amid a bit of a drizzle. But as Kyle Holder led off the 7th with a solid hit, the rain worsened. Teams headed to their dugouts, as fans scurried to the nearest coverage. It just wasn’t going to happen. The game was mercifully called.

Final score: 10-4 Tigers, in 7 innings (thanks to Holder’s lone at-bat)

Next up: the Yankees play host again, this time to the Pirates. And the weather report reads about 10% chance of rain, but a bit humid as that aforementioned front settles over the area. In other words, there’ll be a game, but it’s going to be that typical Florida weather.

Go Yankees!

{Media note: no broadcast means no media clips to include in today’s post. Not that there’s much outside the first half-inning to remember for the Yankees.}

Game 98: NYY vs. TB — Not so sharp Severino or Rays’ bullpen strategy

Yesterday’s finale against the Mets was rained out due to the stream of thunderstorms once again plaguing the East Coast. So they postponed the game for next month to conclude that series and headed down to their next series, a brief road trip against the Rays. And though it’s been quite stormy in the Tampa area too, the Rays are the only completely domed stadium in MLB (a roof with no retraction capabilities), so the game carried on.

Like the Yankees (and other teams at this point in the year), the Rays are down a starter. But instead of calling up a young pitcher from their farm system or finding one on the free agent market or as a result of a trade, they are playing a bit of puzzle pieces by loading up their everyday roster with bullpen pitchers and then splitting a few games a week between the bullpen.

The obvious disadvantage to this is when a starter has a bad day and they need the bullpen to back him up only to see its depletion firsthand. Or you know, finding out yet another starter is headed for the DL (as they did this week). And I’m glad I’m not writing for them or we’d have way more than a paragraph for the season.

Anyway, for the opener at the Trop, it would be Luis Severino vs. the Rays’ bullpen. And in a weird twist of fate, Severino had a rather bad night. He threw 96 pitches into the 6th inning, gave up a whopping 11 hits and 7 runs (6 earned), and still struck out 8 Rays’ batters to earn just his 3rd loss of the season.

In the 1st, he gave up a 2-out double that ended up scoring from 2nd base on a passed ball that kicked off Sanchez’s cleat almost to 3rd base. Then, he held them off until the 5th — with 1 out, 2 singles ended up scoring on a big 3-run home run. A solo shot led-off his 6th inning before a double and single put runners on the corners and Severino was forced to hand the game over to the Yankees’ bullpen.

Chad Green had some trouble keeping the Rays from adding to their lead. He gave up a single that scored the first runner, and then after an out, a failed double play (just a ground out at 2nd) allowed the other runner from Severino to score, ultimately the game-changers. But then Warren and Cole threw scoreless innings to close out the game.

Meanwhile, the rotating door on the bullpen didn’t keep the Yankees from doing their job. In the 2nd, Stanton led-off with a double and later scored on Miguel Andujar’s 2-out single. The game stayed tied for a bit, but after the Rays regained their lead, the Yankees chipped away at it.

In the 6th, with 2 outs, Giancarlo Stanton singled and ended up at 3rd when the Rays made a sloppy fielding error on Hicks’ hit. After a pitching change, the new reliever threw a passed ball that allowed Stanton to score, and Gary Sanchez’s long single scored Hicks.

The 7th inning ended up being the Yankees’ biggest offensive opportunity. With 1 out, they loaded the bases with walks to Walker, Gardner, and Judge. Another new reliever got Didi Gregorius to ground out, while the runners all moved up to scoring position and Walker scored. Stanton then singled home Gardner and Judge.

Down just a run, the Yankees’ final opportunity was basically handed to them, but they didn’t come through. Gardner led-off the 9th with a single, Judge walked, and they both moved to scoring position on Gregorius’ sacrifice bunt. The Rays opted to intentionally walk Stanton (a good decision on their part as Stanton was on fire tonight, going 4-for-4 with a walk, 2 RBIs and 2 runs scored).

So the bases were loaded. Hicks hit into a little grounder and the Rays snapped into defense getting Gardner out at home. Then Sanchez hit a little grounder the Rays mishandled for the out at 2nd, but Sanchez did not run full-out to 1st and the ball beat him there for the final out. The game should’ve been tied at that point. I’m not really sure there are any words for that play other than Girardi’s old go-to phrase “it’s not what you want”.

Final score: 7-6 Rays

Roster moves: following the game on Saturday, after his great call-up story, the Yankees optioned Domingo Acevedo back to AA Trenton. They recalled Giovanny Gallegos from AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

Go Yankees!

Game 97: NYM vs. NYY — Just enough not to be so “Gray” today

Sonny Gray needed a Saturday matinée game like today to help get him back on track. And while it’s certainly not a perfect outing, by any means, the Yankees certainly stepped up to give him enough leeway to find his footing. Gray threw 94 pitches into the 6th inning, gave up just 3 hits, 3 walks, and 3 runs (just 2 earned), and still struck out 6 Mets batters in this middle game of the weekend series.

A lead-off solo home run in the 2nd started the runs for the Mets. But Gray held them off until the 6th inning, giving up 2 1-out walks before handing the ball over to David Robertson. Robertson, however, was not having as clean of a day. A 2-out single scored the first of Gray’s runners before a sloppy pick-off error scored the other one. Robertson got the final batter to strikeout.

Holder and Betances each sailed their way through an inning, keeping the Mets to those 3 runs scored. So, logically, the Yankees called on Aroldis Chapman to close out the 9th inning, but he was certainly having his own issues — a walk, a single, a walk to load the bases, a walk to walk in the first runner, and a hit-by-pitch to walk in the next. Chapman could just not find the strike zone, so they turned to Chasen Shreve to earn his first save with a double play (that still scored a run) and a ground out to end it all.

Of course, in order to get to that point, the Yankees had to shore up enough of an offense to make a difference in light of some less-than-ideal pitching. Stanton led-off with the 4th and then scored on Didi Gregorius’ long triple. Gregorius scored on Miguel Andujar’s double (thanks to a bit of fan-interference), and Andujar scored on Greg Bird’s double. Then just to make thing interesting in this inning, Bird scored on Austin Romine’s 2-out single.

Now with a solid lead, they added to it in the 6th when Andujar hit a lead-off double and scored on Bird’s single to end the Mets’ starter’s afternoon. The new pitcher held the Yankees off for the rest of that inning, but then Aaron Judge led-off the 7th with his 26th home run of the season, a solo shot into the visitor’s dugout.

Then in the 8th, Andujar (clearly having an amazing afternoon) led-off with a single, ended up at 3rd on Drury’s single and a throwing error, and then scored on Romine’s ground out to score the insurance run the Yankees would need.

Final score: 7-6 Yankees

And we have some more roster moves. After yesterday’s game, the Yankees decided that Domingo German needed some time back in AAA to work on his mechanics and find that momentum he lost somewhere after his initial call-up earlier this year. Luis Cessa will move into his rotation spot for the duration.

With an extra spot in the bullpen, the Yankees called up pitching prospect Domingo Acevedo from AA Trenton. He actually got the call-up late last night. While he was chilling in his hotel room watching Netflix, his Trenton coaches (and a teammate to help translate) knocked on his door, and he initially thought he was in trouble. But they gave him the news and his first thought was that he needed to call his mom. She, in turn, was worried something was wrong (remember, it was late at night), but then cried with her son over the phone as he packed his bags to head to New York.

And on the injury front, it looks like the Yankees might see Gleyber Torres sometime soon. The officially sent him to begin his rehab games with the Advanced-A Tampa Tarpons (formerly the Tampa Yankees). If all goes as planned, he could join the team on Wednesday while the Yankees are in town to face the Rays, just across Tampa Bay.

Go Yankees!