Spring Game 5: NYY vs. TOR — A rather messy way to win a game

I’m not going to lie. There are some games that are just an absolute train wreck. They are definitely more common in Spring Training where it seems more like Little League than professional baseball. And usually, it doesn’t turn out well for one team. But this was certainly a joint effort that somehow ended up in the Yankees’ favor.

The Yankees found their way to visit the Blue Jays’ Spring home in Dunedin (about 30 minutes west of Tampa). Back to being called Dunedin Stadium (and the angels rejoice!), the Yankees were looking to extend their undefeated winning streak this Spring, and it certainly took more than a little effort to get there. Today’s starter Chad Green got off to a great start in his first inning, but then struggled in his second, giving up a 1-out solo home run. A 2-out double was too far, and the Yankees turned to reliever Trevor Lane, who got out of the 2nd and kept the 3rd scoreless.

The Yankees came back in the 4th to advance. Danny Espinosa smacked a 1-out solo home run that bounced off the scoreboard out in left field to tie up the game. Austin Romine followed that up with a solid double, moved to 3rd on a ground out, and then scored on a wild pitch to put the Yankees in the lead. Briefly. Because reliever David Hale got into his own set of trouble in the bottom of the 4th. With a 1-out walk lingering at 1st, the defense rose to the occasion to get the out at home on a long double. But then a single tied up the game again and a wild pitch moved the runner into scoring position to do so on yet another single to give the Blue Jays the lead again.

After a scoreless 5th inning on both sides, the Yankees tied up the game in the 6th as last night’s hero Miguel Andujar smacked another home run. In the bottom of the 6th,  after a great 5th inning, prospect reliever JP Feyereisen came back out for the 6th, but then he started struggling too, giving up a lead-off walk who promptly scored on a big triple. So the Yankees turned to Raynel Espinal, but even he gave up a 1-out single that scored another Jays’ run.

In the top of the 7th, the Yankees came charging back as Florial tripled and then scored on Shane Robinson’s sacrifice fly. Then Ryan McBroom led-off a big 8th inning with a solo home run that finally tied up the game again. Wade singled, Higashioka walks, and Diaz hit a sacrifice bunt that was mishandled and thus loaded up the bases, with no outs. A wild pitch moved up all the runners, scoring the go ahead run for the Yankees. After an easy ground out, the Blue Jays went back to their bullpen. It didn’t really help. Florial’s walk loaded up the bases again, and Amburgey hit into a ground out that got the runner at home, keeping the bases loaded. It would be Mark Payton’s bases-clearing double that gave the Yankees enough of a lead to breathe again.

They would need it. Reliever Adonis Rosa had a flawless, 3-strikeout 7th inning, but then floundered a bit coming back out for the bottom of the 8th, giving up a lead-off solo homer and a big double. Josh Rogers came on in relief for Rosa to keep the Yankees in the lead, getting a great double play, a single, and a routine ground out to get out of the inning. But even he had trouble when he came back in the 9th, giving up a lead-off single, a 1-out balk, and a long 2-run home run to put the Jays within a single run. Fortunately, Cale Coshow was able to quickly close out the game in 2 outs to preserve the Yankees minuscule lead.

It’s worth noting that the Yankees’ pitchers gave up 14 hits, while the Yankees’ batters only racked up 9 hits. Stats aren’t always the easiest way to determine how good a game went. But in this case, it’s rather indicative of the kind of messy game the fans in Dunedin got to witness today. But since all that matters (in games that don’t really matter) is the win, I’ll take it.

Final score: 9-8 Yankees

Next up: the Yankees are back in Tampa tomorrow afternoon to host the Tigers again. And they’ll be going for 6 straight wins in an undefeated start to maintain that top spot in both the Grapefruit League and American League so far. I know these standings don’t really count for anything, and they don’t reflect any possible outcome for the rest of the season. But we cling to the good that we can while we can, so that’s where we are.

Go Yankees!

Game 97: NYY vs. SEA — Losing streak broken

I find it interesting that it was a West Coast trip that the Yankees’ recent losing streak. So it’s only fitting that a West Coast trip could end it. And with the final West Coast game of the season, the Yankees needed a win to move forward with the rest of the season.

So they called on rookie Caleb Smith to start today’s final game in Seattle. After a pretty clean first third of the game, Smith a bit of a struggle towards the end of his outing. Overall, he threw 56 pitches into the 4th inning, gave up 5 hits, a walk, and 4 runs, most of that was in the 4th inning actually. He loaded up the bases with 2 singles and a walk. Two outs later, he gave up a 2-RBI single and then a 2-RBI double to push the Mariners into a nice lead. And Smith’s outing was over, handing things off to Chad Green who ended the rally with a nice strikeout.

Green went on to throw through the 5th and 6th innings, keeping the Mariners from adding to their score and setting the momentum for the rest of the bullpen — Dellin Betances’ clean 7th and David Robertson’s 10-pitch 8th. Aroldis Chapman made things a little interesting but still managed to keep things together for the 9th and the eventual save.

Meanwhile, the Yankees kicked off the game with a solo home run by Brett Gardner, his 17th of the season. And Didi Gregorius added one more run in the 2nd with a solid solo shot into the right field seats only to do it again in the 4th with another one, a great 2-homer game for Gregorius.

And in the 6th, with a new pitcher, the Yankees loaded up the bases with a couple walks and a single. Brett Gardner’s single scored Headley to tie up the game. With a new pitcher, the Yankees kept their momentum going as Clint Frazier’s double scored 2 more runs. Despite loading up the bases with Judge’s intentional walk, the Mariners finally remembered their defense and got 2 quick outs.

After that, neither team managed to do much more offensively, and with Chapman’s save, the Yankees were set up for a game win and a series win.

Final score: 6-4 Yankees, Yankees win series 3-1

Roster moves: Well, the Yankees orchestrated a trade with the Blue Jays, where they sent infielder Rob Refsnyder in exchange for 1st baseman Ryan McBroom, a prospect from the AA affiliate. They also outrighted Ji-Man Choi to AAA Scranton and traded reliever Dillon McNamara (formerly with AA Trenton) to the Giants.

And with that, the Yankees are headed back to the East Coast to start a long 9-game home stand on Tuesday (facing the Reds, Rays, and Tigers). Hopefully, carrying this winning thing with them and setting the momentum to carry them into October baseball.

Go Yankees!