Spring Game 28: NYY vs. TB — Comeback to a tie

In this afternoon’s game against the Rays in Port Charlotte, the Yankees are fine-tuning their roster by giving some unexpected opportunities for the hopefuls to show how they do under pressure. A week from today, they will play their final Florida Spring Training Game (the game on Friday, March 31 is an exhibition game to open the Braves’ new stadium in Atlanta). This is especially true for those competing for the final battles (bullpen, rotation, and the utility players) on the 25-man roster announced next week.

So, today, it was young pitcher Jordan Montgomery to get the start. He’d been a reliever in a few other games, giving a pretty good show, something he continued with some strength today. Throwing into the 5th inning, Montgomery gave up 3 hits and 2 runs, but impressively struck out 8 Rays’ batters. A lead-off triple in the 2nd scored on a sacrifice fly to get the Rays on the board. And in the 5th, with 1 out, Montgomery gave up a single and then was replaced by JR Graham.

Now, normally, Graham has been a pretty good reliever, but today he had some trouble. He gave up a walk and got the 2nd out of the inning and then it got messy. Then, he gave up an RBI single, a 2-RBI double, and an RBI single to give the Rays a hefty lead before getting the final out, a strike out to get out of the inning. The rest of the relievers today had a pretty good game — Shreve, Feyereisen, Brewer, and Gurka each took an inning to keep the Rays from adding to their score and bringing the total strikeout count to 12 for Yankee pitchers.

The Yankee offense was slow to do much this afternoon for the first half of the game. Then, down 5-0 in the 6th, the Yankees made their move. Ellsbury led-off with a double and then scored on Aaron Hicks’ ground-rule double. Hicks then scored on Aaron Judge’s big 2-out double.

In the 7th, Ronald Torreyes hit his first homer of the Spring to lead off the inning, a nice solo home run over the left field. Then with 1 out, 2 walks, a pitching change, and a wild pitch, 2 runners were in scoring position. Clint Frazier’s sacrifice fly scored Kozma, the lead runner, easily.

And then the Rays, who were leading by a slim 1-run and just needed a quick 3 outs to seal the win for them this afternoon, got messy. With 1 out, Tyler Wade reached base on a fielding error and ended up at 2nd. Wade stole 3rd and promptly ended up scoring due to a throwing error that tied up the game. Fowler then reached on a fielding error and stole 2nd. But despite a walk, the Rays pulled off 2 more routine outs to close out the inning. They were unable to do anything much against Gurka in the bottom of the inning and thus called the game at a tie.

It was bound to happen at one point this Spring. And unlike in relegated sports, I’m really never happy with a tie. {Note: relegated sports like soccer are awarded points based on their win-draw-loss ratio, a 3-1-0, so a tie would still mean 1 point for each team. But in a win-loss only sport, a tie is basically more meaningless than an entire month of audition-style exhibition games we call “Spring Training”.}

Final score: 5-5 tie (in 9 innings)

And let’s be honest, the biggest story in the baseball world is the World Baseball Classic. Last night, Team USA shut out the Puerto Rican team 8-0. It was quite the game, with the USA starter (normally with the Blue Jays) throwing a no-hitter through 6 innings. Stroman was later awarded the MVP of the tournament. Congrats to both teams on a great tournament, and a special congratulations to Team USA and Yankees reliever Tyler Clippard (who helped Team USA especially in the earlier rounds) and alumni Tino Martinez and Willie Randolph (who served on the coaching staff of Team USA).

Go Yankees!

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