Spring Game 11: BAL vs. NYY — A little batting practice, a little Tanaka Time

My mom asked me as we were getting to our seats before the game who was pitching. Just then, a couple of Japanese photographers came rushing past us on the field as if they would miss a moment of the action. “Never mind,” she said. Yes, it would be Masahiro Tanaka to start today’s game against the visiting Orioles. He was limited to 45 pitches. He later said he didn’t feel like he really threw all that well. Everyone else (including his catcher McCann) would beg to differ. And his stats line would agree with us over the game — 3 innings, 1 hit, no walks, and 3 strikeouts.

In the rather short game today (just 2 hours, 27 minutes) under warm, sunny Tampa skies, the Yankees were posed to pounce on a Baltimore team that has yet to see a win this Spring (after today’s game they sit at 0 wins, 10 losses, and 2 ties). And it may have been the boost the team needed going into the weekend and the coming week to get back in the swing of things.

Anyway, it certainly swung the Yankees’ way today, with excellent pitching and some heavy-duty swinging bats by some familiar faces to allow the Yankees to take control early and big enough to never let go. After Tanaka’s scoreless and rather beautiful outing (save a few sticky pitches in the 2nd), Chasen Shreve came on for the 4th and into the 5th innings to prove that whatever rust seemed to corrode his outings last year is just gone. He’s really proving he’s back into fighting shape and ready to be an asset to the bullpen once again.

Even Rumbelow had a pretty good outing himself, after some early March troubles. He even got a couple of nice strikeouts today in his 5th and 6th innings outing. The 7th inning started a little messy — the lead-off batter with a single to center field that was mishandled some and allowed him to end up at 2nd. He moved to 3rd on a ground out and scored the Orioles’ lone run of the afternoon on a sacrifice fly. (Truth be told: this player was the only regular starting Baltimore player the Orioles used in their line up today, so I guess it’s only logical he would be the only one to make any splash on the scoreboard.)

But the same pitcher tamped down and got back on track in the 8th inning, before turning over the ball to prospect Tyler Olson who just shut down the Orioles in a quick 3-outs, including a beautiful strikeout to end the game.

And on the other side of the diamond, the Yankees set up batting practice against the Orioles’ B-squad today and just didn’t let up. In the 1st inning, the Orioles’ starter got 2 quick outs, but then Rodriguez’s single shook him up. Rodriguez moved to 3rd on Teixeira’s double before they both scored on Brian McCann’s single to give the Yankees a quick early lead.

With the likes of Tanaka and Shreve on the other side of things keeping those pesky black birds from taking off (seriously, I may be overdoing the bird metaphors in my head, so I apologize if some slip through), the Yankees were free to advance. They added another run in the 2nd when Didi Gregoris led-off with a single, stole 2nd base, and then scored on Jacoby Ellsbury’s 2-out single.

The 3rd inning for the Orioles has to be the one they wouldn’t want to remember. Even after 2 solid strikeouts to kick of the inning, the starting pitcher walked McCann and Castro before exiting the game. And then it was small ball time for the Yankees. Gregoris singled home McCann; Judge worked a walk to load the bases; Chris Denorfia’s single scored Gregorius and Castro; and Judge then scored on Ellsbury’s single.

Fortunately, for the Orioles, a pitching change was all they needed to stop the Yankees from scoring again. For the rest of the game. But it didn’t stop them from still hitting. The Yankees racked up 11 total hits (to the Orioles’ 3) and worked 3 walks (to zero walked by Yankees’ pitchers — great stat, by the way, guys!).

Final score: 7-1 Yankees (winning, even when it doesn’t really count, still feels rather good!)

First, a fun trivia fact from today’s game: all 4 players who hit runs batted in (the RBI stat) did so with 2 outs on the scoreboard — McCann, Ellsbury, Gregorius, and Denorfia.

Okay, with all the heavy stuff today being done by the regulars and starters, it was rather difficult to find someone who really stood out to me for the “one to watch”. But once again, I got to give it to Tyler Wade who edged out the other fielders by a small margin as he did well offensive and defensively. In addition to going 1-for-1 (a nice single in the 7th inning), he helped institute a solid double play in the 6th inning. I need to add another Tyler to this category today: Tyler Olson. Because I think given the chance to do something big in a tough situation, I think he can pitch like he did in the 9th inning and make a huge impact when it really can affect the outcome of the game.

And final note: if you use Snapchat, add the Yankees and check out their first foray into the Snapchat world, featuring snaps of batting practice, signing autographs, antics in the dugout, and some fun behind-the-scenes moments from today’s game. (Some of the other teams also participated in Snapchat Day all around the MLB universe, so if you’re interested, Happy Snapping!)

Go Yankees!

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