Spring Game 32: DET vs. NYY — Tanaka falters start at home Spring closer

The Spring isn’t over yet. There’s still 2 more away games and that exhibition in Atlanta to open their new stadium before the 2017 baseball season officially begins on Sunday. But tonight was the last game at Steinbrenner Field. It’s always a bit bittersweet, and it usually comes too soon.

After a flawless Spring, Masahiro Tanaka proved he was human once again with a rather flawed start against the visiting Tigers. In his 5 innings, it would be his 1st that would be the big black mark on an otherwise perfect Spring. Coming into tonight’s game, batters were scoreless against the Yankees’ ace, and even after tonight’s game, he’s still got an ERA of 0.38 (meaning he doesn’t let runners score while he’s on the mound). He gave up just 3 hits and 2 walks, striking out 6 batters in the process.

Despite taking full responsibility for his pitching being “all over” tonight, it really wasn’t all his fault. In the 1st inning, the lead-off batter singled and then scored quickly on a double. The next batter reached 1st on a fielding error before Tanaka got his first out, a strikeout. He walked the next batter, and on a throwing error, the lead runner scored. Tanaka got it together and closed things out with 2 consecutive outs.

The Yankees answered back with their own long-half inning in the bottom of that 1st inning (which would stretch out to 47 minutes total for just the 1st). Gardner, Sanchez, and Bird worked consecutive walks to lead-off the inning and load the bases. One out later, Jacoby Ellsbury hit into ground out, moving all the runners up and scoring Gardner to get the Yankees on the board.

Then with Tanaka (and the rest of the team) finding a better momentum, things moved at quite the pace for the next few innings. It was on to Dellin Betances for the 6th inning. Betances gave up a double to lead-off the inning, only to follow that up with a big 2-run homer to double the Tigers’ score. Betances then got it together and got 3 consecutive strikeouts. Holder followed him in the 7th, breezing through the Tigers’ roster.

The Yankees sliced into the Tigers’ lead in the bottom of the 7th, as Aaron Judge led-off with a monster solo shot straight up center field. Wade then hit a nice 1-out single and ended up on 3rd thanks to a fielding error. He immediately scored on Rob Refsnyder’s long sacrifice fly.

The 1-run difference didn’t last long. Frieri came on in relief in the 8th, and after 2 quick outs, had some trouble getting out of the inning. He gave up a walk, a stolen base, and then a solid 2-run home run. JP Feyereisen came on in the 9th and threw a beautiful inning, adding 2 more strikeouts to the Yankees’ total of 14 tonight (compared to the Tigers’ total of 4).

Games are counted by strikeouts, but by runs. And despite their best efforts, post-1st-inning, the Yankees just couldn’t come back and pull it off in the end. Even with a post-game fireworks show to tempt them.

Final score: 6-3 Tigers

Okay, final Player of the Game: I’m giving it to JP Feyereisen tonight. Feyereisen has been actually pretty stellar Spring as a non-roster invitee. He came to the Yankees organization as part of the Andrew Miller trade last July (which included Heller, Frazier, and Sheffield), and has made quite a name for himself this Spring. In his 6 games, he’s thrown 6.1 innings, given up just 3 hits, 3 walks, and 2 runs (both homers), and struck out 9 batters. Batters have a .143 batting average off him, and he currently holds a 2.84 ERA (which is outstanding for any pitcher, but great for a reliever with so few innings pitched). Tonight was no exception, just continuing the young pitcher’s show of force and making him worth remembering.

Okay, so I have to share one very funny Yankees OnDemand video that showed up on my news feed today. Just a quick clip of Brett Gardner and Greg Bird, in the wild. (I’ve watched it like five times already, so enjoy!)

Go Yankees!

{Media Note: Yep, no broadcast tonight, so no video clips available. Sorry, folks! Once the regular season starts, it’ll be clips galore!}

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