Lakeland, Fla., February 27, 2019; Detroit 10, Yankees 4 — Dat’s it, I’m afraid; the eventual rain that delayed, then ended, Wednesday’s Yankee game vs the Tigers interrupted D.J. LeMahieu’s leadoff at bat in the top of sixth, not the fifth. Off a day of driving rain, dazzling morning sunny skies and 80-degree temps gradually devolved into a partly cloudy day, then a sky totally blanketed in clouds.
Thus, tbe Yankee 2019 Spring record fell to 2-2, and ours to 1-1. The Yankees were vanquished 10-4 by two five-run innings that couldn’t have been more different. The first inning featured nine runs scored (5-4 Tigers), with both rallies largely affected by unfortunateplays at shortstop. First, Jordy Mercer threw away a Miguel Andujar potential double play grounder up the middle with two on and one out, leading to a Gleyber Torres first-pitch single, and a Greg Bird no-doubt-about-it three-run shot to left center, 4-0 Yanks.
The retribution came quickly, as “No” Chance Adams retired none of the Tigers’ first five batters, though he too was victimized by an unfortunate outcome to a ground ball. Shortstop Torres closed quickly on Christian Stewart’s roller up the middle following Adams’s leadoff walk to Josh Harrison. But Stewart’s ball was redirected when it hit the mound, and Torres failed to adjust his pathway to the ball. With two on and no one out, the Yankee righthander’s throws showed nothing, and the next 10 tosses netted back-to-back doubles, a three-base hit, and four runs. Adams was relieved by Brady Lail after recording an out, but a single plated run No. 5. Mercifully, a double play grounder ended the carnage, with Luke Voit making a fine twisting scoop play at first to end the frame. We had a 5-4 game, 37 minutes, 56 pitches, and six outs in.
Despite giving up an opposite-field leadoff bloop single, Yankee righty Albert Abreu put up a good inning in the second, though with what was [not] happening on the visitor side of the ball, it hardly mattered. A hard thrower, he retired the next three with Andujar at third getting the first two outs, first on a fine play on a foul pop well down the line, then corraling a hot liner right at him.
Domingo Acevedo, another righthanded prospect, and a big one (6’7″, 250 lbs.), threw some intimidating stuff in the the bottom of the third, but he couldn’t throw enough strikes to make it work. Two outs in around a single and a walk, Acevedo hit center fielder Jacoby Jones with a pitch, then walked Harrison for a sixth run. (Harrison, by the way, a former Pirate signed by the Tigers in the offseason, thereby reached safely for the third time in three at bats; he saw 16 pitches in those at bats.) Twenty-one pitches in, this got young Domingo a visit from Larry Rothschild, whose advice, one assumes, was, “Throw strikes.” The next pitch was a strike to Stewart, who promptly homered to center for four runs, forging the final score.
As hinted at above, the Yanks did not look to be about to come from 5-4 behind, much less 10-4, as Detroit pitching retired 13 straight Yanks following Bird’s first-inning jack. LeMahieu’s leadoff at bat in the top of the sixth wouldn’t change that, nor would the rains that had crew chief Joe West calling on the grounds crew to cover the field. Twenty-five minutes later, young Thairo Estrada got the unenviable job to stand in for LeMahieu facing an 0-2 count. Thairo struck out for the first out of a one-two-three sixth.
Starting the seventh, shortstop Kyle Holder, in for Torres, singled to become the first Yankee baserunner in six innings. The following count to DH Bird went to 3-1 under yet more rain, when the umpires raised the white flag, calling the game, a 10-4 Detroit final. It may have been the first time I have seen a rain-shortened game stopped twice in the middle of a visiting player at bat. Could Bird have turned things around? I gotta admit, it is doubtful, but the rains that peppered the windshield on the way back to Tampa never amounted to much.
The Yankees host Pittsburgh in Tampa tomorrow. The weather reports are encouraging. Today’s game started under sunny skies and 80 degrees, and more of that appears to be coming up in the days ahead. So yes, you win some, you lose some … Today was not rained out. But it was rained on.