Game 18: TOR vs. NYY — Not so “Sonny” & still a chilly April in the Bronx

I’m so tired of talking about the weather. But when the first pitch comes with a temperature of 46° and a wind chill of 37°, it’s hard not to factor in the lingering winter-like chill, despite the calendar clearly indicating late April. I’d blame that as to why the Blue Jays, who play in Toronto, but my argument falls short as they have a retractable roof, and most of their players are not from the frigid north. I mean, perhaps, the initial idea was to form teams from players in the area, but 149 years later, rarely do you truly get a “hometown hero”. (For reference: the Yankees have one — Dellin Betances, who was born and raised in New York and grew up a big Yankees fan.)

So I guess it’s just down to the basics — the team that scored the most runs won. And the team that pitched less clean lost. Sonny Gray just had a really tough time in tonight’s start. He threw 73 pitches into the 4th inning, giving up 5 hits, 4 walks, and 5 runs, and couldn’t strike out a Blue Jay batter at all. With 1 out in the 3rd, he gave up a walk and a 2-run home run. In the 4th, a lead-off double scored on a ground-rule double. A single put runners on the corners before both scored on a 1-out single. After giving up a walk, the Yankees opted to end Gray’s troubled night.

They brought in Domingo German in relief, and despite promptly loading up the bases with a walk, he got out of the inning with 2 short fly outs to keep the Jays from adding to their score. But German had his own troubles in the 5th. A lead-off walk, a single, and a 1-out walk loaded the bases. A short single scored one run, and a 2-out walk scored one more, before German got out of a bases-loaded jam.

Adam Warren came on in relief and promptly gave up a solo home run to lead off the 6th inning. But then quickly got 3 outs before dominating the 7th and most of the 8th and keeping the Jays from doing any further damage. Chasen Shreve closed out the 8th and sailed through the 9th — throwing just 10 pitches for his 4 outs.

It is worth noting that the Yankee pitchers gave up 9 hits and 9 walks, and their bullpen collected 7 strikeouts (as Gray got none in his start). That’s 18 allowed base runners tonight.

The Yankees actually got on the board first in the 2nd inning. Hicks worked a 1-out walk and then scored as part of Tyler Austin’s 2-run home run. In the 3rd, Gregorius hit a 2-out single and then was part of Giancarlo Stanton’s 2-run home run. And in the 4th, Miguel Andujar hit a bit 2-out solo home run.

All the Yankee runs today were scored off home runs. That says a lot about the Blue Jays’ defense tonight, as the Yankees actually racked up 11 total hits and a walk.

Final score: 8-5 Blue Jays

On the plus side: for those local Yankee fans heading out to the game this weekend, the temperatures are going to be around 60°, sunny and clear skies. In other words, Spring may peak its head out this weekend and prove some great days for baseball. Hopefully, the on-field performance will be as positive and hopeful as the Yankees finish this series against the Blue Jays.

Also, after some rather tepid (often nearing ranting level) responses to his home run call for Stanton, Yankees radio broadcaster John Sterling found a new one, which he showed off during Stanton’s 3rd inning blast. Oh, and Sterling sings. Thoughts?

Go Yankees!

Game 10: BAL vs. NYY — 12th inning fumble

Let’s just say that I don’t think I’m the only person who’s glad this weekend series is over. Two extra innings games in a single series is exhausting. And only about a few people (the players and coaches, plus grounds crew and stadium staff) can actually say that justifiably. Today’s extra innings game was mercifully an afternoon start, but it still ran four hours and 48 minutes in total.

Neither starter had a stellar day. The Yankees took advantage of the Orioles’ starter’s off day right in the 1st inning. Gardner and Judge hit consecutive singles, and with 1 out, Neil Walker hit into a failed force attempt that scored Gardner. Austin worked a walk to load up the bases, and Miguel Andujar singled home both Judge and Walker. Austin Romine’s 2-out single then scored Tyler Austin, and Ronald Torreyes’ double scored Andujar. The Orioles had seen enough and pulled their starter right there in the 1st inning, and from there the Yankees struggled against their bullpen.

Meanwhile, the Yankees sent Jordan Montgomery to the mound to start this finale against the Orioles. Montgomery threw 86 pitches into the 5th, but still gave up 10 hits, 2 walks, and 4 runs, striking out just 4 batters. In other words, down 5 runs, the Orioles spent the rest of the game chipping away at that large lead. In the 2nd, a lead-off double scored on an RBI single to start the O’s scoring. Then in the 3rd, a lead-off single moved to 2nd on a single, advanced to 3rd on a double play, and then scored on another single.

In the 5th, with 1 out and a single on base, a big 2-run home run put the Orioles within a run. That was it for Montgomery’s outing today. Domingo German came on to close out that inning. And the Yankees answered back in the bottom of that inning with Walker’s lead-off single. He then moved to 2nd on a ground out and to 3rd on a 2-out single by Peterson (after a challenge overturned an original out call). Austin Romine singled Walker home.

But the Orioles answered that one in the 6th — a lead-off single stole 2nd, and then scored on a 2-out single — and in the 7th — a 1-out walk scored as part of a 2-run home run to put the O’s in the lead for the first time this afternoon.

Now, in order to push this into extra innings, the Yankees needed to tie this game up, so they found their opportunity in the 7th. Austin hit a 1-out single, moved to 2nd on Andujar’s walk, ended up at 3rd on Peterson’s fielder’s choice, hung out for a pitching change, and then scored on Austin Romine’s single to tie up the game.

Betances, Chapman, Shreve, and Robertson breezed their way through the 8-11th innings. But then so did their counterparts. The Yankees offense certainly had their moments to hope and hold on, but there just wasn’t enough to cobble together anything to break the tie.

In the 12th, Adam Warren took the mound and the Orioles saw their own opportunity to advance. Warren gave up a 1-out walk and a 2-out single. Another single scored the Orioles’ go-ahead run. But the Yankees battled back in the bottom of the inning. Romine and Gregorius each worked walks, and Gardner’s sacrifice bunt loaded up the bases thanks to a fielding error. With no outs, Judge hit a comebacker to the pitcher who quickly got the double play at home and 3rd to cut down the lead runners. A strike out later, the game was over.

Final score: 8-7 Orioles, in 12 innings, Orioles win series 3-1

It’s worth noting that neither pitching staff came off as perfectly clean, both staffs giving up 16 hits each and still striking out 12 and 15 (Yankee and Orioles, respectively) batters. It just means things weren’t as neat as they probably should be in a regular game.

Next up: the Yankees head up to Fenway to face the Red Sox for a mid-week 3 game series, starting Tuesday. (Tomorrow is an off-day/travel day.) Currently, the Red Sox are on quite a winning streak of 8 games, after losing their opener. Yes, the Red Sox are 8-1 for the season so far.

But no worries, Yankee Universe, it’s been just 10 games. It’s barely April. There’s still 152 games left to play, or 94% of the season left to play. Talk to me in like July if you feel like panicking or calling for Boone/Stanton’s resignation.

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!

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 27: NYY vs. MIN — Cool and sunny Spring win

Well, today was another nice day in Florida, a cool, clear afternoon to play some baseball in the last few bits of Spring Training. Of course, back in New York, the city and stadium are digging themselves out from underneath the latest snow storm. The Yankees took themselves about 2.5 hours (or 143 miles) down the Gulf Coast to visit the Twins in Fort Myers.

Jordan Montgomery got the start in today’s game, throwing an impressive 6 strong innings. He kept the Twins from doing much damage all afternoon, with a single exception. In the 5th, he gave up 3 consecutive singles to load up the bases before getting the first out of the inning, a fly out. A sacrifice fly scored one run and moved the other runners into scoring position, but a fly out ended that threat. Those 3 allowed hits were half of Montgomery’s allowed hit all 6 innings. This certainly sets him up to be a rather interesting cog in this season’s rotation.

Domingo German also put up his case as to why they should pick him (over Holder) for the final bullpen spot. In his 3 innings today, he kept the Twins scoreless and hitless. In other words, he was dominant and a completely valid contender for what could be long-term relief in 2018.

Meanwhile, the Twins pitching staff became a rotating door as it certainly kept the Yankees from doing much of anything today as well. Billy McKinney kicked off the minimal scoring today with a 2-out solo home run into the right field seating area in the 2nd inning. After the Twins tied things up in the 5th, the Yankees came back in the top of the 6th. With 2 outs, Tyler Austin doubled and then scored on Austin Romine’s long single to give the Yankees the slim lead.

Final score: 2-1 Yankees

Next up: the Yankees will host their annual big rivalry game as the Red Sox come north to Tampa to face off for an afternoon game. Masahiro Tanaka currently listed as the starting pitcher for the game.

Yet another lighter side: Another commercial was released today for the Yankees. This time, it stars Dellin Betances, Masahiro Tanaka, and David Robertson (with a cameo from a familiar face to regular Spring Training fans). It’s all in the release, guys.

Go Yankees!

Spring Game 26: BAL vs. NYY — The Judge is in session tonight

The rain yesterday brought in what could be the final real cold front of the season. Not that I’m complaining much because of how much the Northeast is getting bombarded with snow today as well. I’m also not complaining because the weather in Tampa’s going to get back into the uncomfortable range again next week. So while it’s a bit nippy for a Florida evening in late March, it’s a momentary break from the norm.

So, the Yankees hosted the Orioles for their final evening home game of the Spring, behind Luis Cessa who had a bit of mixed results tonight in his 4 innings. He gave up a 2-out solo shot in the 1st, but really pushed through most of those first 3 innings. He got into trouble, though, in the 4th with a lead-off double, a walk, and a ground out to move runners into scoring position. A sacrifice fly scored the first run and a single scored the other before a runner found out why Yankee fans know: “don’t run on Gary”.

David Robertson had an off night (for him) in the 5th inning. He just really had a hard time finding that first out. He gave up a single that scored on a big double and a wild pitch to move the runner to 3rd. But then he got a nice fly out and that put Robertson back in the right frame of mind and plowed through 2 solid strikeouts to close out the inning.

Jonathan Holder showed the powers-that-be that he deserves a shot at that extra bullpen spot with 2 scoreless and nearly flawless 6th and 7th innings. (More on this after recap.) Aroldis Chapman, however, got into his own spot of trouble in the 8th. A sloppy error allowed a runner reach base, who then moved to 3rd on a long double. After a difficult at-bat ended in a 2nd out, a strikeout, the Yankees needed a fresh arm. They called on minor league pitcher Chaz Hebert, who got a strong strikeout to eliminate the threat. He then shut down the Orioles in order to earn his first Spring Training save ever.

The Yankee batters managed to take control of the game fairly early and stay strong thanks in part to some big bats tonight. In the 1st, down by a run, the Yankees loaded up the bases with Judge’s 1-out walk, Stanton’s 2-out single, and Sanchez’s walk. Didi Gregorius powered a big 2-RBI double to put the Yankees in a lead they wouldn’t surrender tonight. In the 2nd, with 1 out, they loaded the bases again with Torreyes’ single, Gardner’s single, and Judge’s walk. This time, it would be Greg Bird to scored 2 runs with his long single. Stanton hit into a fielder’s choice and moved Judge to 3rd where he could easily score when a throwing error allowed everyone to be safe advancing on Sanchez’s at-bat.

Then in the 4th, Aaron Judge hit a nice 1-out solo home run into the right field seating area. The Yankees were unable to do much for the middle of the game, but then they found another opportunity to advance in the 8th. Avelino led-off with a single and moved to 3rd on Gardner’s single. So it was Aaron Judge again to hit a big, no-doubter, 3-run home run to solidify the Yankees’ win tonight.

Final score: 9-4 Yankees

One to Watch: I’ve got to give it to Chaz Hebert, who had a truly stellar outing tonight. He closed out the 8th inning for Chapman, with a threat sitting right there on base, and proceed to power through a quick 9th inning. Of his 4 outs tonight, 3 were strong strikeouts. This was his first Spring Training appearance ever, so it was also his first Spring save. I had to dig up some old statistics on him because until he set foot on the mound tonight, I’d never heard his name, but his dominance impressed me. Apparently, he’s played mostly Single-A and rookie ball with the Yankees since he was signed in 2011. The 25-year-old pitcher even played in AAA Scranton briefly in 2015 before spending all of 2016 on the DL. After spending the 2017 season working his way back, an appearance like tonight could be a sign of a better 2018 season for him.

Next up: the Yankees travel down to Fort Myers to face the Twins. Jordan Montgomery is scheduled to face off with a former Yankees’ starter (now the Twins strongest veteran on their rotation).

Roster moves: Before tonight’s game, the Yankees continued winnowing down their roster by optioning pitchers Giovanny Gallegos and Ben Heller, infielder Tyler Austin, and outfielder Billy McKinney to AAA Scranton (and camp). The latter two were obvious decisions, but there’s been much talk about who will fill out the bullpen and both Gallegos and Heller were contenders. And now, that leaves the final spot to either Jonathan Holder (who had a stellar outing tonight) or Domingo German. However, it’s worth noting that because of how long the season is and how frequently injuries do happen, that we will be seeing many of those names (if not all) in the Bronx in 2018.

It is worth noting that one particular player has made a lasting impression and officially made the starting roster — Tyler Wade is on the team. Boone made this clear after yesterday’s game, and rightly so. Wade has been absolutely outstanding this Spring, undoubtedly earning a spot on the team. We’ve been watching Wade since his non-roster invitee days for the last three Springs, but had a really big Spring last year (.357 batting average). However, he struggled some when he got his MLB call up in the middle of the year (and bounced back and forth a bit). But with consistency this Spring earning him a regular spot (and a batting average of .316 so far), that could help improve his MLB average (.155 last year).

Another lighter note: another new ad was released today. This one features Didi Gregorius and his trademark smile as he greets teammates Aaron Hicks, CC Sabathia, and Sonny Gray hanging out around the batting cages. Gregorius’ positive outlook certainly causes him to see things differently.

Go Yankees!

{Media note: no broadcast, so minimal video links. And tonight, I’m really sorry because there were some great highlights.}

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!