Spring Games 5 & 6: DET vs. NYY & NYY vs. BOS — Split success amid heatwave

The Yankees played their first split squad games this Spring, and with impressively positive results. And it was a hot and sticky kind of day, but that didn’t seem to put a damper on the Yankees hitting some crucial home runs both at home and on the road.

Home: DET vs. NYY

I’m thinking it was the heat today, but the clock confirms that it was a rather long game at “The Boss” today, clocking in a 3 hours and 13 minutes (nearly an hour longer than yesterday’s game. The Tigers came for a visit and didn’t bother to show their teeth  until it was too late in the game to make much of a difference. (That was literally the only feline metaphor I could come up with, so I blame the sun.)

Masahiro Tanaka made his Spring debut today and came up with a clean sheet, striking out two batters over his two innings. While he seemed troubled with certain pitches in his bullpen sessions, getting back on the mound seemed to shake whatever cobwebs and rust might be lingering from the off-season. Behind Tanaka, the Yankees showed off some of their strong pitching staff of faces we’ve seen before (like Chasen Shreve, who made his Spring debut today too) and some deep in the farm system. And really only two pitchers had some issues against the Tigers today.

In the 7th, with 1 out and 2 runners on base with singles, a really solid 3-run home run put the Tigers on the board. Then with a runner on 2nd with a double, he and the batter switched places for a 4th run for the Tigers that inning alone. They capped off their run-scoring in the 8th with a lead-off solo home run.

This could’ve spelled bad news for the Yankees, except the starters turned over the game to the replacements with an 8-run lead, which started in the 3rd inning. With 2 outs, and Gardner on 1st with a single, Gary Sanchez hit his first home run of the season just over the left field fence for a 2-run homer. Chris Carter led-off the 4th inning with a solo home run into the left field seats. And the Yankees continued in that inning, taking advantage of the Tigers’ less than stellar pitching and defense. With 2 outs and Headley on 2nd with a nice double, he scored on Ruben Tejada’s single. But with the bases soon loaded with a single and walk, the Yankees failed to capitalize on that opportunity.

No worries, they came back to find another easy opportunity in the 5th inning. Holliday worked a walk to lead-off the inning and 2 wild pitches later, was standing on 3rd base. Another walk to Carter put runners on the corners. Holliday then scored on Starlin Castro’s single, which Chase Headley followed up with another RBI single. All this before there was a single out recorded in the inning. Two outs later, Clint Frazier came in to replace Gardner and promptly doubled home both runners.

To finish off the scoring, young infielder Thairo Estrada led-off the 7th inning with a solo home run, the second time he hit a home run in as many days.

Final score: 9-5 Yankees

Away: NYY vs. BOS

Now, just 2 hours south, the other part of the Yankees’ roster faced off with the Red Sox at their Spring home in Ft. Myers, affectionately known as “Fenway South”, with a sort of “Green Monster” out in left field and everything. And like they should, this was more of back-and-forth game deserving of the longstanding rivalry between the two teams.

Honestly, the pitching wasn’t as clean as the home team today, but the defense helped keep the Red Sox from doing too much damage. The Red Sox batters jumped on the board in the 2nd inning when a lead-off single scored on an RBI double. Then that runner scored on a 2-out RBI single, but the inning ended with sharply when the batter tried to make it a double and got caught at 2nd (thanks to the quick instincts of left fielder Rob Refsnyder). The Red Sox added another run in the 6th with a 1-out solo home run. And a 2-out single in the 8th scored on an RBI double to cap off their scoring.

The Yankees began and then countered the Red Sox’s scoring with their own offensive strength, helmed almost entirely by Greg Bird. With 1 out in the 1st, and Refsnyder on base with a single, Bird hit his first home run of the Spring, 2-run bomb off the right field foul pole. He came back in the 6th to lead off that inning with another home run, this one a solo shot over the “Green Monster”.

In the 7th, Gleyber Torres kicked of things with a walk, moved to 3rd on Kozma’s double, and then scored on Zehner’s sacrifice fly. And echoing what was happening a couple hours north, they loaded up the bases but couldn’t do anything to push their lead any further in that inning. So, the Yankees retook and kept the lead in the 8th when Payton led-off with a double and then scored on Torres’ single.

Final score: 5-4 Yankees

It is worth noting that the Yankees got 12 total hits in each game today off the opposing pitching staffs, if you’re into random bits of trivia that have no real purpose or meaning beyond just a simple statement.

Okay, my Player of the Game (I do home games only) is easily Clint Frazier. Yes, he’s been hyped a lot since the Yankees picked him up as part of the Andrew Miller trade last July (with Cleveland), and he shined in the Arizona Fall League last year. But there is definitely a reason people are talking about Frazier. Defensively, he dove for a great final out of the 8th inning, and offensively, his double scored 2 runs for the Yankees today. He really is the whole package, his distinctive red curls peeking out of his cap and everything.

Go Yankees!

{Media note: like it happens sometimes during Spring Training, neither games were heavily filmed, so we are limited to one shareable media link. Sorry!}

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