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.

The rout was on, but not over. Torres moved up on a wild pitch before singles by Luke Voit and Miguel Andujar and Mike Tauchman’s sac fly established a 3-0 lead with two down. Perez, pushing his pitch count to 33, finished his day with a walk to Gio Urshela, and during the first of three walks to Clint Frazier, Hunter Haworth wild-pitched Voit home. LeMahieu’s second single of the inning scored two more before Brett Gardner mercifully took a third strike to halt the carnage, 6-0 Yanks.

The game was played more evenly thereafter, but not overly so. The teams swapped singleton home runs, but while the Rafael Devers shot to right center in the fourth preceded just one more hit by the visitors, Urshela’s third-inning bomb to dead center was the first of eight Yankee hits following the first. Yankee pitching was keyed by a superb Masahiro Tanaka, who struck out five while retiring nine of 10 around a two-out Urshela wild throw in the third. Young Clark Schmidt pitched well the next two frames, though he surrendered the Devers jolt. Adam Ottavino and Zack Britton pitched perfect innings, but Jonathan Loaisiga was dominant retiring the last six batters, four of them on strike outs, just as he had vs the Rays on Thursday.

Following Perez and Haworth for the Sox, Josh Taylor and Austin Brice did pretty well through the fifth, but baby Yankees reached Josh Osich, Domingo Tapia, and R.J. Alvarez for six hits and four walks over the next three, even if they only plated two more runs. Alvarez had the toughest time, as Tyler Wade and Thairo Estrada both caromed base hits off his body in the eighth. Worthy of mention is Estrada, spending his first innings at third, who hit two singles in as many at bats after opening eyes hammering pitches in pregame batting practice on a back field. And Chatham would turn in a couple of fine plays at shortstop or the score might have been much worse.

So Yankee fans who thronged to this game had a ball, while a respectable Boston showing following their team “suffered” through three hours and eight minutes of hot sunny weather with intermittent cloud cover. Anthony Terrell Smith, better known by his stage name Tone Loc, had a 2006 hit across platforms with Wild Thing, as did the Troggs with a like-titled (though different) song in 1966. That was the year Tone Loc was born, on March 3.

The visiting Red Sox on this day was a team made up of,

Wild Things