Tanaka With a K

Tampa, Fla., March 5, 2017; Yankees 3, Pirates 2 — The Yankees continued their winning ways Sunday afternoon, subduing Pittsburgh in a low-hitting affair, yet again under blue skies and pleasant temps. Mild to strong breezes were more prevalent this day, as we sadly bade Florida goodbye and flew North, actually leaving the game in the middle innings. Continue reading

Best in Show

Lakeland, Fla., March 4, 2017; Yankees 11, Tigers 1 — Perhaps smarting from their second road loss Friday, this to the Blue Jays by one run, scored in the bottom of the ninth (the same manner in which they lost their first), the Bombers pounded out an early 3-0 lead against the Tigers in Lakeland Saturday afternoon, and added to it frame after frame. Continue reading

For What It’s Worth

Dunedin, Fla., March 3, 2017 — The Yankees lost for the second time in their 2017 Spring campaign Friday afternoon. As was the case with their first loss, last Saturday, it was a game played on the road (losing to Philadelphia in Clearwater); they lost by one run; they staged a game-tying rally in the top of the ninth, only to lose when their opponents rallied with one out. Oh, and the pitcher giving up the run was lefty Joe Mantiply. Continue reading

This Team Has Just Begun

Tampa, Fla., March 2, 2017; Yankees 8, Orioles 1 — As meaningless exhibitions go, Spring Training is the Championship season of the year. Our sojourn along Florida’s West Coast the last week or so began as a decision to pursue baseball, and all that wonderful sport involves, rather than waiting for it to find its way North to us. We know that the outcome of the games doesn’t count, that the fact that the Yankees led the Grapefruit League, for instance, in home runs entering Thursday wouldn’t earn them one win in the 162 following contests that will count. But who are we kidding? We are fans as well, and we’re eager to see perceived strengths in our team confirmed, and to have the array of questions every season brings answered in a positive manner. Continue reading

Wild Wild West Florida

Tampa, Fla., March 1, 2017; Yankees 8, Atlanta 7 — The Yankees managed to survive a one-run win hosting the Braves in their first night game of 2017 Wednesday in a game almost comical for its dramatic turns. The home team blew out the visitors 8-0 over the first six frames, and the Braves won the last three innings 7-0: thus, the 8-7 final. Continue reading

Working 9 to 5

Tampa, Fla., February 28, 2017; Yankees 9, Tigers 5 — It is always a thrill when Masahiro Tanaka pitches for us, at any Yankee — or nonYankee — venue, and his Spring debut in Tampa Tuesday was no exception. Despite a Chase Headley miscue on a grounder on the great righthander’s fourth pitch, he still managed to turn in two stellar innings, retiring the visiting Tigers on six at bats by throwing just 25 pitches. Not only did he shut down the visitors on two strike outs and four ground-ball outs, he did it while getting five called strikes, six strikes when the bat hit the ball, and five swings and misses. Continue reading

Starlin’s the Star

Tampa, Fla., February 26, 2017; Yankees 7, Blue Jays 2 — Behind a strong start from Luis Severino and an early three-run bomb from second baseman Starlin Castro, the Yanks upped their Spring mark to 2-1 with a 7-2 spanking of the visiting Blue Jays Saturday afternoon. But the powerful right arm and quick reactions of catcher Gary Sanchez played just as large a part in the victory.

Once Severino retired six of seven around a walk, and Castro reached southpaw Brett Oberholtzer for his second-inning tater, righthander Johnny Barbato — who showed promise last Spring, only to struggle in the regular season — threatened to put Toronto back in the game by walking the first and third Jays batters in the third.

DH Anthony Alford had stolen second base in the second when Didi Gregorius ended up on the seat of his pants corralling Sanchez’s one-bounce throw. If Toronto manager John Gibbons thought he had found a way to attack the New York defense, he was quickly proven wrong. Following his leadoff free pass, second baseman Jon Berti was clearly beaten on a close play at second by a Sanchez peg. But when center fielder Ezequiel Carrera tried to stretch his free pass one out later, the result was laughable — Starlin Castro was literally waiting for him with the ball when he finally slid into the inning’s third out.

Barbato would pitch a one-two-three fourth, and lefty Jason Gurko a scoreless fifth around a single and a walk. Despite whiffing two, young Brady Rail ran into trouble in the sixth because he threw 14 off the plate to go with 17 strikes. A leadoff walk got it started, and veteran catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia battled him for seven pitches before homering to right on the eighth. But that barely dented what had become a 5-0 lead built on a Matt Holliday rbi groundout and a Brett Gardner run-scoring single. And one frame later nonroster Yankee outfielder Billy McKinney forged the final 7-2 score with a two-run shot of his own.

Worthy of mention is some solid glove work by Chase Headley, though his bat continues to be a concern; a sharp opposite-field double by Aaron Hicks; and the work of veteran DH Holliday, who through two games is 3-for-4 with an rbi groundout.

It was a brilliant, sunny afternoon in Tampa, with none of the morning cloud cover and midday humidity of the last few days. More of the same is expected tomorrow in Sarasota vs the Orioles, with Chad Green scheduled to take the mound.


Once Upon a Time

Tampa, Fla., February 24, 2017; Yankees 9, Phillies 4 — 2017 is going to be a strange year for Yankee fans. With much of New York assuming the Mets will charge into the postseason, the Yankees not so much, you’d expect to hear dire descriptions of the team and pessimistic predictions for their chances. But to all appearances, the fanbase is in a better frame of mind than they’ve been in in years. Continue reading