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.

Boyd and David McKay whiffed four Yankees through four frames; Cole and Luis Cessa combined for five. Once Detroit put up a scoreless fifth, however, this one changed dramatically. Righthander Kyle Funkhouser answered the bell in the home fifth, but DH Chris Iannetta’s ringing double to left was the first of four straight hits. Already down 2-0, the young Tigers righty snuck a called third strike past DJ LeMahieu, but not Gleyber Torres, who buried a drive down the right field line well over the wall for a 5-0 lead.

If that margin wasn’t daunting enough against a team set to deploy Adam Ottavino (who actually tossed the fifth), Zack Britton, Tommy Kahnle, Chad Green, and Jonathan Holder out of the pen, the Yanks jumped lefty Greg Soto for another three runs in the sixth. Lefthanded outfielder Zach Granite, who played 40 games with the 2017 Twins and is in camp as a nonroster invitee, collected a second rbi on a fielder’s choice in this inning. He had already both driven in and scored a run in the fifth. Kyle Holder, having replaced Torres at short, followed by driving in the last run with a single.

To their credit, Detroit managed to score against both Kahnle and Green for the 8-2 final. It remains to be seen how the Tigers will fare against the traveling squad Aaron Boone assembles for tomorrow. The contingent that traveled South returned with a 5-2 victory over the Red Sox, so few players will have been rested. The team plays no game on Monday, but some will need to power through a trip and game Sunday.

Emerging from cool (residents are saying “cold,” but I can’t buy into that description) temperatures early in the week, and rain on Wednesday, Tampa skies have been largely cloud-free, and each day it has been a bit warmer. We reached the low 60s today, hope for 65-70 tomorrow, and could hit 80 by Tuesday. That’s a nice climb for a visitor from the New York area almost as starved for hot weather as he was for baseball. But it doesn’t approach what the Yankee club has been doing, some missing stars notwithstanding. Following an 0-2 stumble out of the gate, and a frustrating home tie with the Pirates, they have reeled off six straight wins, including the 5-2 win over Boston today.

Yes, Tampa temperatures are climbing. Witnessing games in the sun is a delight, and a comfortable view even in the shade seems days away. But Tampa Bay weather is not the hottest thing in town.

The Yankees Are En Fuego