Game 19: TOR vs. NYY — Unnecessary but big inning #6

Sometimes, all it takes in one big inning to make all the difference. But to be totally fair, the Yankees could have completely skipped their big 6th inning and still would have won the game. The Blue Jays just weren’t doing much off the Yankee pitchers today.

Not that I’m complaining…

Jordan Montgomery got the start this afternoon in the third of 4 games this weekend against the visiting Blue Jays, and he had a pretty decent outing. He threw 91 pitches in his 6 innings, gave up 4 hits, 3 walks, and a run, and struck out 5 Toronto batters. That lone run came in his weakest inning — the 5th. A lead-off walk moved to 3rd on a single and then scored on another single. But then Montgomery and the defense kicked it up a notch and got the necessary 3 outs to get out of the lone troublesome inning.

Montgomery actually set a pretty good pattern for his 2 relievers to follow. Chasen Shreve’s 7th inning was flawless, and recently recalled Jonathan Holder threw rather efficiently in the scoreless 8th and 9th innings.

Like I said, there was one big inning that actually didn’t matter for the Yankees’ offense. And that’s because of Brett Gardner and Aaron Judge in the 3rd. With 2 outs, Gardner worked a walk, and then on a 3-0 count, Judge hit a big 2-run home run into the 2nd deck of the left field seats to give the Yankees an early lead. So with that lone run by the Blue Jays in the 5th, the Yankees were sitting pretty.

But why not have a big 6th inning along the way? The Yankees sent 12 batters up in the inning because the Blue Jays’ starter his initial reliever were just not able to find those 3 outs. Gardner led-off with a single, moved to 2nd on a wild pitch, watched Judge work a walk, and then scored on Didi Gregorius’ single. With Stanton’s walk (and still no outs), the bases were loaded. Aaron Hicks hit into a failed force attempt, where the pitcher fielded a short grounder poorly in an attempt to get the out at home. But a missed catch error scored Judge and kept the bases loaded.

After a strikeout (the first out of this half-inning), Miguel Andujar’s double cleared the bases, scoring 3 more runs. (So, have we talked about how amazing this guy is yet? I’m pretty sure he’s this year’s Torreyes.) That would be the end of the Jays’ starter, but his reliever had issues too, promptly giving up a walk to Romine and a short single to Torreyes loaded up the bases again. Brett Gardner’s sacrifice fly scored Andujar, and Aaron Judge’s single scored Romine to cap off the Yankees’ monster inning.

It’s worth noting the Yankees actually loaded up the bases again in the 7th, but a former teammate was able to pitch out of his jam and the Yankees left them loaded. Again, not that they needed more runs.

Final score: 9-1 Yankees

Roster/injuries: before today’s game, Adam Warren was sent to the 10-day disabled list with back strain. In his place, the Yankees called up Jonathan Holder, who was able to pitch and dominate in today’s game.

And before this afternoon’s game, the Yankees hosted a Little League Parade, something do every year before select games. Local teams come, dressed in their team jerseys and hats, and parade around the field on the warning track. And then they and their parents get to watch a great game.

Here are some pictures from today’s parade. And what a great game they got to see! (With some pretty great weather!)

Go Yankees!

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

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

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

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

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

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

Final score: 8-3 Yankees

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

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

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

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

Go Yankees!

Game 8: BAL vs. NYY — Extra innings letdown a perfect closure to a “bonkers” game

Truthfully, most ball games are really rather predictable. They follow the same formula — pitching, batting, defense, and the occasional base-running. The crowd cheers when runs are scored or a particular tough out is made. The rare game has something highlight reel-worthy. Then there’s whatever happened in the Bronx tonight during this 5 hour and 20 minute extra innings game.

The Yankees continue to host the Orioles during their 4-game weekend series. And tonight was rather pleasant weather (in contrast to the “snow delay” the Rockies and Braves had to contend with today). CC Sabathia got the start tonight, but he was cut short in his outing due to soreness in his right hip (more below). He still got 58 pitches in his 4 innings, giving up 4 hits, 3 of them unfortunately solo home runs, and striking out 3 Baltimore batters. All three runs were a 1-out solo shot in the 1st, 3rd, and 4th innings (2 by the same player, by the way).

The Yankees were able to chip away at that O’s lead responding to the first 2 runs with 2 of their own. In the bottom of the 1st, Gardner led-off with a walk, moved to 2nd on Judge’s hit by a pitch, and then scored on Giancarlo Stanton’s single. Then in the 3rd, Gardner led-off with double and promptly scored on Aaron Judge’s single.

So down just 1 run and Sabathia out of the game, the Yankees turned to their bullpen to help pick up the game. Tommy Kahnle struggled a bit through his 2 innings before turning things over to Betances and Robertson who fairly breezed through the 7th and 8th innings.

In the bottom of the 8th inning, Didi Gregorius smacked a 1-out solo home run into the right field stands to tie up the game. After Chapman struggled his way through the 9th, but kept the O’s from adding to their score, the Yankees were unable to come back with a walk-off. So “free baseball”… and into extra innings the game went.

Now, the Yankees bullpen should be the strongest bullpen in the MLB, but they have struggled quite a bit this season. But they tried their hardest to fight this upward battle. Chad Green gave up 2 base runners in his 10th inning, but kept them from scoring. Chasen Shreve breezed through his 11th inning, but loaded up the bases in the 12th before getting out of that jam.

Jonathan Holder came on for the 13th for an efficient inning, thanks in part to Aaron Judge reaching over the right field wall to steal away a home run. (I don’t think I’ve ever seen Holder smile so much in a game.) That joy was short-lived because he just fell apart in the 14th inning. He very quickly loaded the bases — a walk, a single, and a sacrifice bunt that made it safely due to a throwing error — with no outs. Then in the middle of the next player’s at-bat, Gary Sanchez’s calf cramped up. Austin Romine rushed to gear up and jump right in, getting the batter to strikeout for the first out of the inning. But then the next batter smacked a long grand slam into the right field seats to break the tie and give the Orioles the lead again.

As you can guess, the Yankees offense didn’t have much success against the Orioles’ pitching. I mean, there were moments of hope. Like the 11th inning. With 1 out, Gregorius led-off with a walk and Walker was intentionally walked. Ronald Torreyes hit a short grounder that got Walker out at 2nd, but Torreyes beat out the second part of the double play at 1st. Well, he did after a challenge, review, and overturn. Defensive indifference let Torreyes get to 2nd and into scoring position. And suddenly, the pitcher threw a bad pitch that headed to the back wall as Gregorius booked it into home. Just as he was reaching for that plate, the pitcher came in and slid like a runner on the 3rd base side of the plate, effectively blocking Gregorius from reaching home.

A challenge ensued, but the original call of “out” was upheld. The winning run was denied. To be perfectly fair, I’m not sure how that was not “blocking the plate”, a rule on the books to keep catchers from being really harmed, except for the “catcher” was not a catcher but a pitcher and the rule books only have rules for “blocking the plate” for the catcher. Had Gregorius not dived head first and instead slid feet first, that pitcher would probably had serious injuries in that thigh from Gregorius’ spikes. (That would have caused a quick rule change). But either way, it’s something to look into, MLB HQ.

Anyway, from then on, the Yankees only eked out a Judge walk and stolen base in the 13th. So there was no comeback in store.

Final score: 7-3 Orioles

Another weird play in this “bonkers” game was in the 6th inning. So Stanton led-off with a single, moved to 2nd on Gregorius’ single, and then to 3rd on Sanchez’s fielder’s choice out at 2nd. Then Walker hit a short grounder to 3rd base, so that fielder threw the ball home to try to get Stanton out at home. But Stanton saw it coming so he tried to run back to 3rd. Unfortunately, he’s now caught in a bit of a rundown on those 90 feet between 3rd and home plate. But as he’s headed back to 3rd (which he would have outrun the catcher), he see that Sanchez has already made it to 3rd base.

This is confusing, obviously, as two players of the same team cannot share the same base. So the catcher tags both Sanchez and then Stanton out. There was quite a bit of a scuffle as the umpires tried to determine the right call. Was it a single out? A double play? Why was the Orioles’ manager getting as orange as his hat screaming at the umpires? In the end, they called it a single out on Stanton, the Orioles officially declared they were playing under protest, and the next batter hit into a ground out to end the inning.

In other words, the call and the protest didn’t matter. Neither changed the outcome of the game. Afterwards, it was revealed that the play should have been a double play because Sanchez technically crossed paths with Stanton and thus out of the base path order. So rightly, the catcher tagging them out in that order was correct. Kudos to him for his sharp thinking. But like I said, this whole play did not matter or affect the outcome of the game anyway. Other than just making it more “bonkers”.

Tonight’s mass casualty reports… I mean, injury updates: As you know, CC Sabathia was pulled from the game after the 4th inning with right hip soreness. This is his landing leg, so that pressure and force on that ball and socket joint is going to hurt after all the repeated pitching. He was sent for an MRI, which came back clear, but that doesn’t stop the soreness, which may be just overwork right now. Gary Sanchez’s 14th inning cramp up was just that — a cramp. So he’ll be okay. Though I was still expecting Romine to catch tomorrow afternoon’s game due to the regular scheduling of a day after night game.

Two other losses during the game were Brandon Drury and Tyler Wade. Drury came out of the game in the 6th inning with blurry vision and severe migraine pain. I get migraines, as do 13% of the population, and believe me, they are nothing you can just “walk off” or “rub some dirt in”. Then despite some really good defensive plays tonight, Tyler Wade just was not looking like himself. After the 8th inning, Wade left the game due to a fever and flu-like symptoms (read: nausea and feeling like roadkill).

I suspect with the depletion of the bullpen tonight and all these injuries that the Yankees will announce some roster moves before tomorrow’s game. Okay, enough with these injuries, guys. Get healthy and stay healthy, so you can win some games.

Go Yankees!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Final score: 11-4 Yankees

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

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

Happy Home Opener, Yankee Universe!

Go Yankees!

Game 3: NYY vs. TOR — Injury plagued loss, despite young power

Well, it was bound to happen sometime. The loss that is, not the injuries. But those injuries need to stop (more later). But the loss is a guarantee in this kind of game. There is no such thing as an undefeated season in MLB, and honestly, the entire game is really about losses.

I mean, when you think about it, even the best batters fail 7 out of 10 at-bats to get an average of .300. And in a season of 162 games, the best teams may win 90-100 in a season. That still means 60-70 losses. In fact, every day, one team will lose and one will win. This afternoon happened to fall in favor of the Blue Jays, proving perhaps that they really are “Toronto the Good“.

CC Sabathia got the start for the Yankees today and threw a decent outing — 84 pitches in 5 innings, giving up 5 hits, 2 walks, and 2 runs (only 1 earned), and struck out 4 Toronto batters. In the 1st, with 1 out, a batter doubled and then scored on a long single. And the lead-off batter in the 3rd made it safely on a throwing error before scoring on a double.

Sabathia would actually get a no-decision in the scorebook. The Yankees were certainly held off for much of the game, only getting 4 total hits, thanks mostly to the Blue Jays’ starter. But in the 5th inning, Drury worked a lead-off walk and then scored as part of Tyler Austin’s big 1-out 2-run home run to tie up the game.

Adam Warren came out for the 6th inning. He quickly got one out before giving up a walk. The next batter hit a sharp grounder right into Warren’s ankle. The defense got the out at 1st, but the other runner made it to 2nd and Warren came out of the game. Jonathan Holder came in to close out the inning for Warren, but gave up a single that scored the runner, giving the Blue Jays the lead.

But then it would be Tyler Austin to come back in the 7th to hit a 2-out solo home run to tie up the game once again. In fact, all of the Yankee runs were Austin’s fault, his first multi-homer game. Reliever Dellin Betances came in for a clean 7th inning, but then got into some trouble in the 8th. He gave up a lead-off solo homer (to a former Yankee, by the way) to shift things back to the Blue Jays’ favor.

Then things got messy. With 2 outs and a runner on 1st with a single, that runner stole 2nd, watched the next runner work a walk, the first runner stole 3rd, and then the other runner stole 2nd, putting both runners in scoring position. (Yes, a scorer’s nightmare!) And in a terrible play, thanks to a throwing error by Betances, both runners then stole the next base, which means someone stole home.

Final score: 5-3 Blue Jays

Injuries incurred today: outfielder Billy McKinney slammed against the wall in left field, which is actually a scoreboard. He seriously injured his left shoulder, coming out of the game then. X-rays were negative, but he’s still going on the DL. Adam Warren‘s injury, the grounder to his ankle in the 6th, was also enough to take him out of the game. With x-rays coming back negative, it looks like he’ll be nursing a deep bruise there, and some time on the DL.

To solve the immediate issue of McKinney’s absence and now hole in the roster, and with all the other outfielders on the 40-man roster also on the DL (Ellsbury, Frazier, and Hicks), the Yankees are calling up Miguel Andujar. Andujar can play 3rd, 1st, and DH, leaving the two other primary bench players (Wade and Torreyes) to sub in the outfield (to break Stanton, Judge, and Gardner). Ellsbury will probably be the first off the DL, but not until April 5, so it could be a very long week for the outfield. Still no word on who might take over for Warren, but fortunately, there’s a plethora of relievers waiting for that call with the RailRiders.

Okay, that’s enough injuries this week. Let’s stay healthy, guys!

Also, we are in the first full day of Passover week, so Chag Sameach! to those celebrating this week. We hope you all had a great Pesach dinner with your friends and family.

Go Yankees!

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

What a change moving Spring Training north 474 miles (about 7 hours) to Atlanta. And yes, “the Big Peach” is one of those random nicknames for the city. My apologies to the family and friends who reside there for such an awful nickname. But then again, I grew up in “the Big Guava“. Let’s just stop naming things after fruit. New York barely tolerates that; it’s not worth copying.

Anyway, along the drive to the city more commonly known (and rather ironic tonight) as “Hot-lanta”, the temperature dropped nearly 40-degrees, with first pitch tonight coming in on the thermostat at 47° F at SunTrust Park. The newest professional stadium in the MLB stable (opening just last year) hosted about half its capacity for the diehard fans willing to brave the cold and the eventual rain that plagued tonight’s match-up between the hometown Braves and the Yankees. But the faithful were treated to a pretty good game.

Sonny Gray got the start tonight, throwing 60 pitches in his 5 innings, giving up just 3 hits and a run and striking out 7 batters. His lone allowed run came in the 4th when a lead-off double moved to 3rd on a ground out and then scored on another one. Other than that, the Yankee pitchers held off the Braves’ battery for most of the game, with the bullpen showing off their fresh arms and breezing through most of Atlanta’s lineup — Kudos to Betances, Robertson, Holder, Heller, and Chapman who dominated tonight’s game and helped contribute to the impressive total of 14 strikeouts.

Meanwhile, the Yankees found moments in the Braves’ starter’s night to take advantage of. With 2 outs in the 1st, Stanton worked a walk and then scored as part of Didi Gregorius’ 2-run home run to get the Yankees on the board early. In the 3rd, Judge worked a 1-out walk and then scored with Giancarlo Stanton’s 2-run big home run to the 2nd deck in left field to double the Yankees’ lead.

The Braves’ starter came out of the game after struggling through his 3 innings, but the bullpen was much sharper, fending off the Yankees for much of the game at that point. Until the 8th inning. Trey Amburgey made it safely to 1st on a missed catch error and booked it to 2nd on a wild pitch. He then scored on Shane Robinson’s 2-out double to cap off the Yankees’ scoring with an unearned run.

Final score: 5-1 Yankees

This means that the Yankees finish the Spring 18-13-1 (or .581 season average). And I will be posting my reflections, the final standings, and a recap of Spring 2018 tomorrow. So check back for more.

Injury update: after seeing a foot specialist today, the Yankees announced that Greg Bird will undergo surgery tomorrow morning to remove a bone spur that has broken off outside his ankle. If you think that sounds painful, you’re right and it’s why he’s not been playing these last few games. He will need about 6-8 weeks of recovery following the surgery, thus starting another season on the DL. But the depth chart is stacked this year with the likes of Walker, Wade, Drury, Austin, and even Romine to cover while Bird gets healthy again.

Okay, first official 2018 game is this Thursday afternoon (3:37 PM EST). The Yankees kick off the season with a 4-game series in Toronto.

Go Yankees!

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.}