Solo Shots, Great Pitching Define Spring Training Opening Day
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After a four-month hiatus, the Yankees took to the field on Friday to play the Phillies in their opening Spring Training affair. Didi Gregorius set the tone right away. The Yankee shortstop clubbed a first-pitch offering from Phillies starter Alec Asher into the right field stands to give the Yankees a lightning quick 1-0 lead.
Bryan Mitchell held his own on the mound, retiring the Phillies in order for two consecutive frames. Mitchell struck out one Phillie before handing the ball over to Tyler Clippard. The Yankees did not allow a baserunner until the 7th inning, when Scott Kingery reached on an error. It was a very good day for Yankee pitching, who held the Phillies to two earned runs as a group. Like Mitchell, Luis Cessa and Jordan Montgomery also fired two scoreless frames in the winning effort.
In the bottom of the fifth inning, Aaron Judge stepped up to the plate and reminded us of his enormous potential. Judge clubbed an Elniery Garciaoffering that penetrated the left field scoreboard. Just like that, the Yankee lead was doubled.
In the sixth frame, the Bombers brought in their second string squad, chock-full of top prospects like Arizona Fall League MVP Gleyber Torres, outfielder Clint Frazier, and third baseman Miguel Andujar.
With a runner on and one out, Andujar laced a ball into the right field corner that was misplayed by Chris Coghlan, and he circled the bases after Coghlan’s throw nailed the dugout.In the eighth, Andujar nailed a double to go along with his three bagger. He would later score on a two-run triple by Clint Frazier. Frazier’s rip put the score at 8-2. The Yankees would go on to win 9-4 after the Phillies cranked two solo shots in the 9th.
Earlier, catcher Kyle Higashioka launched the third and final Yankee solo shot of the afternoon, plating their 6th run. Higashioka has been in the Yankees system since 2008, and is now appearing in his first Spring Training with the big league club.
Preceding the Yankee backup catcher, Gleyber Torres sent one for a ride, driving home Dustin Fowler with a sac fly that reached the right field warning track. Fowler, drafted in 2013, led off the frame with a triple, showcasing his stellar speed.
A familiar face to baseball, but a new one to the Yankees, Matt Holliday started off his pinstripe career on a high note. He squared up two balls perfectly, but Holliday’s 37 year old legs would only permit a pair of singles. He was signed by the Yankees to a 1-year, $13,000,000 contract this offseason.
Despite their great pitching and offensive prowess, the Yankee defense faltered, nearly costing them the lead at one point. Starting the 7th inning with a 4-0 lead and Jordan Montgomery on the mound, shortstop Gleyber Torres threw wide, allowing the Phillies’ first baserunner of the game to reach. Following a couple of hits, first baseman Ji-man Choi botched what looked to be a routine double-play ball, allowing Philadelphia’s second run of the inning to cross home.
They say that the most exciting play in baseball is a triple. Today, the Yankees had three. It is safe to say this youth movement will be full of excitement. However, their shaky defense proves that it will take time for this group to produce a winner.
-By Adam Shemesh