A sunny, warm March afternoon in Tampa saw the Tigers face off against the Yankees at George Steinbrenner Field, and came back to win 8-7 with a four-run ninth. I’ve been to that complex before, and it’s certainly the calibre of facility you’d expect from the Yankees: the (ridiculous) dimensions mirror those of Yankee Stadium, the seating capacity is among the largest in Florida, and the grounds are top-notch. It’s definitely worth checking out if you’re in Florida for some spring games, even if you despise the team (which, let’s face it, we all do).
For the Yankees, Luis Severino is on his way back from Tommy John surgery. He came back briefly last year, only throwing 6 innings... and at this point, let’s not forget our own Alex Faedo, trying to make the same comeback, along with Spencer Turnbull.
Severino was a little rusty early, walking the first batter he faced, Robbie Grossman, on four pitches, then balking him over to second. Javier Báez followed with an RBI double on a 3-0 pitch, scoring Grossman.
Spencer Torkelson then ripped a single to the wall in right, pushing Báez across; Torkelson probably would’ve legged out a double, but he stumbled going around first.
Gotta love that solid contact.
You know what I’ve never realized until now? We have the chance, once Turnbull comes back, to have two Spencers on the roster. Has that ever happened? We’ll get Jayson Stark on that.
Tarik Skubal made his spring debut for the Tigers, and his fastball/changeup combination was splendid early on, making Aaron Judge look quite the fool. His slider was working well against Joey Gallo, too, easily dismissing the Yankees in the first. Let’s sit back and take stock of Tiger potential starters: Skubal, Mize, Rodriguez, Manning, probably Pineda, maybe Alexander as a swingman, maybe Peralta later on in April after his work visa issues get resolved, Beau Brieske, Turnbull, eventually Faedo, possibly Joey Wentz... that’s a lot to think about.
Grossman crushed a Severino fastball deep to right-centre with two out in the second, his second home run of the spring; a two-run shot which also drove in Hittin’ Harold Castro.
Robbie Grossman’s homer with Dan Dickerson on the call. pic.twitter.com/7x5SBNn087— Rogelio Castillo (@rogcastbaseball) March 20, 2022
Severino lasted a pair of innings in total, with his speed looking good but his control a little off, as you expect coming back from the ol’ TJ surgery.
Skubal got into a bit of trouble in his second and final inning of work, putting runners on the corners with two out. He then struck out José Peraza, who was holding down third base today as Josh Donaldson gets his uniform’s pinstripes painted-on, to end the threat. Take a look at Skubal's new knuckle curve
Looks like Tarik Skubal has tweaked his curveball. Baseball Savant is classifying it as a knuckle-curve now, and it’s 3.5MPH faster than his curve from last year. Was his least used secondary offering last year.— Chris Brown (@ChrisBrown0914) March 20, 2022
Tarik Skubal, Nasty Curveballs. pic.twitter.com/fjKBAMRRqT— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) March 20, 2022
Gregory Soto came in to lock down some crucial outs in the third inning. (That’s sarcasm, for your information.) He plunked Aaron Judge on the foot with two out, but other than that it was pretty uneventful, and he was hitting the high-90s with his fastball.
Tucker Barnhart led off the fourth, and he stepped into the right-handed batters’ box to face Lucas Luetge. This is a little surprising, as Barnhart started off his career switch-hitting, then abandoned hitting from the right side... but decided to try hitting righty again this offseason. He grounded out, but hey, it’s something to keep your eye on.
Of note in the fourth inning: Victor Reyes had a 13-pitch at-bat before lining-out to right field. That’s fun. The Yankees got a couple of runs in the bottom of the frame with Chase Anderson on the mound.
Faedo came on for the fifth inning, throwing his first meaningful pitch since March of 2020. The Yankees got a run on a walk, a wild pitch, an infield hit and a throwing error; there was some contact in the inning, but it was all soft. Good to have him back.
Nivaldo Rodríguez took over for Faedo in the sixth, loaded the bases, then gave up a grand slam to Oswaldo Cabrera, who hit 24 home runs in Double-A last year. Meanwhile, the Tigers hadn’t put a baserunner on since Grossman’s home run.
The Tigers returned the favour in the top of the seventh, loading the bases agasint Sean Boyle with two out and Derek Hill at the plate. Hill hit a chopper to third and almost beat out the throw to first, but didn’t. One of the baserunners was Parker Meadows, whose smash was knocked down by the Yankee first baseman:
Parker Meadows' infield single had a 109.4 mph exit velocity, according to Statcast. He looked good in minor-league minicamp, and continues to show intriguing potential if his swing changes result in more consistent contact.— Jason Beck (@beckjason) March 20, 2022
In the ninth, with runners on first and second and one out, Jack Lopez doubled to left to close the gap to 7-5. Meadows followed with another hard-hit single, scoring two and tying the game at 7. Meadows stole second and advanced to third on a wild pitch, Willi Castro walked, and Kody Clemens poked a single through the middle to score Meadows and push the Tigers ahead 8-7. Detroit batted-around in the ninth, scoring four runs in total.
Ricardo Pinto, who’d pitched the eighth for the Tigers, stuck around for the ninth and picked up the win, for what it’s worth.
Notes and Nonsense
- Cameron Maybin will be joining the Yankee broadcast team this season.
- Game time temperature in Tampa today was 25°C (77°F). That sounds pretty pleasant to me.
- Happy Nowruz, everyone! It’s Persian New Year, associated with the first day of spring. I propose we change the first day of the calendar year to match the spring equinox, as January 1 is very astronomically boring.