Spring Game 5: NYY vs. PHI — Tanaka is back & Romine doubles down

Fans at Bright House Stadium in Clearwater got to see Masahiro Tanaka’s Spring debut today, as the Yankees went to visit the Phillies’ Spring home. Tanaka didn’t disappoint, though he had some rusty moments in his 2nd inning — a couple hits and a walk — but with some great defense (a nice double play) and his trademark nasty pitching helped keep him in charge and the Phillies scoreless.

At least during his tenure on the mound. His reliever prospect Swarzak threw a beautifully clean game, with no hits, no runs, no walks, and 2 strikeouts — 6-up, 6-down. And his reliever James Pazos kept the Phillies at bay for an inning.

But it was prospect reliever Chad Green that seemed to have a rather bad day in the 6th inning. Green’s bad day: single, single, walk to load the bases, sacrifice fly to score a run, another walk to load the bases, a sacrifice fly to score a run, and another single to score another run. Branden Pinder came on to close out the game but struggled himself, giving up a 3-run home run to his first batter and a walk before getting that final out to end the painful 6th inning for the Yankees.

Relievers Campos and Webb pushed the Phillies back into their scoreless pattern, each with a nice strikeout. This limited the Phillies to just 6 hits, 7 runs, and 6 strikeouts.

But it wasn’t an “all-Phillies” show. The Yankees actually struck first in the 3rd inning, with Refsnyder (today getting the start at 3rd base) leading off with a single and Adams working a walk. With 2 outs and a pitching change, it would be Starlin Castro to get a solid single to score Refsnyder and get the ball rolling in Clearwater.

Following the disaster that was the bottom of the 6th inning for the Yankees, they came back with a fervor, determined to gain back as many of those lost runs as humanly possible. With 1 out and a runner on base with a walk, Austin Romine doubled home Judge to start their 7th inning rally attempt. Jorge Mateo’s single moved Romine to 3rd before Mateo’s stolen base cemented his legacy as a ridiculously fast guy and as one who cannot hang onto his helmet (Nunez 2.0, anyone?). Tyler Wade’s single scored Romine and a walk loaded the bases, but a pitching changed shifted the rally and tamped down the Yankees’ rally.

But the Yankees weren’t about to go into the night quietly. In the 8th inning, Gamel led-off with a single and Torreyes reached on a force attempt and fielding error so that they both scored on Austin Romine’s second RBI double of the game. Mateo earned a walk (one of 7 the Yankees earned all game), but once again, the Phillies’ pitcher was able to get out of trouble with 2 more outs he needed.

But it just wasn’t enough for the Yankees.

Final score: 6-5 Phillies.

Okay, so the “ones to watch” today aren’t as clear cut as they have been in the last few games, as I’m trying to pick guys not on the regular or 40-man roster, but focus on the prospects and invitees to give you (and me) a better view of the Yankees to come. However, if put to the screws, the two guys who really did the best today were Austin Romine (who is on the 40-man) with his 3 RBIs off 2 doubles (went 2-for-2, with a run scored) and Jorge Mateo, going 1-for-1, with a walk, his ridiculous defense, and that stolen base swipe (sans helmet) in the 7th.

Girardi today said the back-up catcher’s position on the regular roster is between Romine and Sanchez (who started at catcher today). The other will start the year in AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. If Romine keeps up the power, he would be the logical choice. But there’s still quite a bit of March left to play before it’s determined who can be the most consistent both offensively and defensively. To be honest though, it’s a pretty even match-up, so it’s going to be an interesting contest once again this Spring (like last year’s between Romine and Murphy, who is currently with the Twins after an off-season trade).

Go Yankees!

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