What’s Up Front Counts

Tampa, Fla., March 21, 2022; Yankees 5, Philadelphia 2 — If, as many say, Spring Training games are a poor gauge of team performance, because many of the players are inexperienced minor leaguers not likely to ever make a major league squad, it can be posited that what happens early in games holds some validity. That is when the front-line players do take part. For instance, when Philly came to Tampa to play the Yankees Monday afternoon, the top of their lineup included Bryce Harper, JT Realmuto, Rhys Hoskins, Jean Segura, and Didi Gregorius, facing a Yankee squad peopled by Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, DJ LeMahieu, Joey Gallo, Josh Donaldson, and Aaron Hicks. On the mound, the Yanks had righthander Jameson Taillon facing Phillies righty Hans Crouse, a Texas second-round pick who started two games in the City of Brotherly Love last year. Continue reading

The Power of Zeroes

March 19, 2022, Sarasota, Fla.; Yankees 3, Orioles 3 — The Yankees, who bunched three of their five hits and all three of their runs in a Friday loss to the Pirates in the first and ninth innings, compressed their offense even further on Saturday. Playing under even sunnier and hotter skies, this time devoid of wind, they battled the Orioles to a 3-3 tie in Baltimore’s Spring home, Ed Smith Stadium in Sarasota. And this time all three of both their hits and runs came in a five-at-bat chunk of the top of the third inning. Continue reading

Fun in the Sun

March 18, 2022, Bradenton, Fla.; Pittsburgh 4, Yankees 3 — Although the Yankees would eventually fall to the Pirates, they got their suddenly assembled and quickly prepared Spring Training session started Friday with an encouraging first inning, demonstrating an offensive nimbleness not often in evidence in 2021. It was a gorgeous, if windy, afternoon, warm under a largely cloudless sky, played in front of 4,500 fans representing both teams, and baseball fans of all stripes. Continue reading

Perfect for a Night Game

Tampa, Fla., March 4, 2020; Yankees 3, Philadelphia 2 — Strong pitching and yet another solid first inning carried the Yankees to a 3-2 win on a gorgeous Wednesday night in George M. Steinbrenner Field. Rounding into midseason form, second baseman DJ LeMahieu started the rally with the first of two sharp singles, but just as key was Brett Gardner, busting out like it was the playoffs to beat the relay on his seeming double-play one-hop grounder back to the pitcher. Continue reading

Wild Things

Tampa, Fla., March 3, 2020; Yankees 9, Boston 1 — The Yankee “pounding” of the visiting Red Sox in an ugly first inning on Tuesday afternoon was a sign of what can happen in a Spring Training game. But usually innings like this happen later in games, not at the beginning when the lineup is dotted with starters and other players likely to make the team. But when I say “pounding,” it was more like a case of hitting a few balls and letting the visitors mishandle them. DJ LeMahieu started the 34-minute bottom of the first with a clean single that just got past C.J. Chatham at short, but from there on, it was Keystone Kops stuff. Starter Martin Perez wild pitched LeMahieu to second and, one out later, Chatham threw wildly to the plate on Gleyber Torres’s ground ball. Gary Sanchez topped a roller down first which neither Perez nor first baseman Michael Chavis could decide to field. Continue reading

Fundamental Things Apply

Sarasota, Fla., March 2, 2020; Tampa Bay 3, Baltimore 3 — It didn’t take us long to decide what to do in the Tampa area on an 80-degree sunny Monday in March with no Yankee game scheduled. Go find another ballgame. We’d covered every city in the area but Bradenton (the Pirates) and Sarasota (the Orioles), and Pittsburgh was not playing at home. Ninety minutes South it was, with the Rays visiting the O’s. Continue reading

Who Are You?

Lakeland, Fla., March 1, 2020; Detroit 10, Yankees 4 — The fatigue anticipated coming into the Yanks’ 10th game in nine days appeared on the field Sunday, as the home-standing Tigers beat the visiting Yankees 10-4 on the strength of an ugly six-run bottom of the seventh inning. The end-of-game box score listed two errors for Detroit and none for New York, a scoring Yankee fans in the stands would rush to dispute. Continue reading

Yankees Are “En Fuego”

Tampa, Fla., February 29, 2020; Yankees 8, Detroit 2 — The visiting Tigers and Yankees breezed through 4.5 innings of scoreless baseball in one hour and 11 minutes in a warming George M. Steinbrenner Field Saturday afternoon while a split squad of Yankee players were battling the Red Sox in Fort Myers, a nearly three-hour bus trip to the South. The visitors reached Gerrit Cole, in his second Yankee start, for two hits, as did the Yankees a very game lefty Matthew Boyd for Detroit. Continue reading

Sage Advice

North Port, Fla., February 28, 2020; Yankees 5, Atlanta 3 — Following a couple of days of revitalized offense, the Yankees continued to hit the ball, and once again the pitching held up its end on Friday afternoon. Visiting the Braves’ brand-new facility in North Port, Yankee players collected hits in every inning but the third and ninth, and 10 overall. Although the team precipitated a lot more action than the Braves, who rarely reached base, the visitors were on the wrong end of a 2-0 score through five innings once third baseman Johan Camargo reached young righthander Deivi Garcia for a two-run shot in the second inning. Continue reading

Another Quickie

Tampa, Fla., February 27, 2020; Yankees 7, Tampa Bay 1 — The toughest thing about describing the Yankees’ 7-1 victory over visiting Tampa Bay Thursday is picking the aspect that pleased most. The offense trumped Wednesday’s three-double attack by clearing three fences; two ready-for-prime pitchers and two of the knocking-on-the-door variety shut down the visitors over nine frames, and all this was accomplished in a neat, no-nonsense two hours and 18 minutes. Continue reading