Tampa, Fla., March 5, 2019; Yankees 5, Atlanta 1 — The perfect trip to Yankee land slipped a bit off the tracks Tuesday morning, as the Yankees were learning that nominal staff ace, Luis Severino, scheduled to start against the visiting Braves this day, was experiencing shoulder pain. Meanwhile, traveling Yankee fans, emerging from hotel rooms all around Tampa, were discovering that their 80-degree, blinding-sunshine trip had morphed into a rainy damp morning with temperatures in the 50s. Nevertheless, we trudged to George M. Steinbrenner Field, and the Yankees treated us to a 5-1 victory.
For those who hadn’t heard of the Severino tweak, the early news was that the Yankee starter in the game was second-year lefty reliever Stephen Tarpley. And he retired the visitors in order, as did fellow reliever Chad Green in the second. Actual starter J.A. Happ did the same pitching the third inning, but was reached for three hits, a hit by pitch, and a run in the top of the fourth. Happ, who had surrendered three runs to the Pirates last Thursday, got out of this inning because Giancarlo Stanton, in left field, muscled a throw to the plate to nail Tyler Flowers trying to score on a single from second base.
The Yankees, meanwhile, had failed to score after singles in the first and the second, and more frustratingly, once Aaron Judge doubled off the center field wall leading off the fourth. Judge took no such chances when he came to the plate one frame later. DJ LeMahieu had an infield single off righthander Chad Sabotka in between Gleyber Torres and Estevan Florial walks to start the inning, and Troy Tulowitski tied the game with a sac fly to center. Then Judge pretty much nailed down the “W” with a three-run missile over the wall in center.
Happ pitched the fifth as well, surrendering a two-out, one-base hit, which would prove to be the last Braves safety of the day. Tommy Kahnle and Dellin Betances (in his first game action of the campaign) posted one-two-three frames in the sixth and seventh. Then righty Nestor Cortes, Jr., who struck out four Pirates while getting five outs on February 28 (the same day Happ last started), set down the last six in a row, striking out one in the process.
Not a lot of Yankee history to share on March 5, aside from the notorious Fritz Peterson/Mike Kekich wife (family, really) swap that was revealed on this day in 1973. But deferring to the visiting opponents, it was on March 5, 1964, that it was first announced that baseball would be coming to Atlanta. And following the 1965 season, the Boston, then Milwaukee, Braves would be relocated to Atlanta. But also, in this age of baseball analytics, with all the algorithms included therein, let’s also salute the anniversary of the birth in 1574 of mathematician William Oughtred, in light of his invention of the slide rule. One wonders how William would have weighed in on topics like spin rate, babip, etc.
So after 10 days of mostly hot temps under sunny skies, we rooted on the Bombers through 2:30 in damp, (almost) “cold” conditions. We have been assuming, ever since the Yankees deployed to Bermuda seven or so decades ago, and other major league teams have been training in warm-weather sites, that March is about “training” players for the season to come. And indeed, most of it has. But this day baseball fans were subjected to “harsh” conditions (jeez, it barely broke 60!) in early March (with more to come tomorrow)? With apologies to Billie Holliday and Vernon Duke (who focused on “Autumn”), I like to refer to what we went through today as conditions that will be approximated some 30 days from now.
April in New York