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Brett Gardner and Aaron Judge go deep twice, Yankees top Tigers but fall to Blue Jays

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The Bombers put on a power display today in split-squad action.

MLB: Spring Training-Pittsburgh Pirates at New York Yankees Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

We sure had a full day of baseball this afternoon! The Yankees experienced their first split-squad day of the spring, and one of the games was even televised, after what felt like ages of non-televised spring games. Most of the big names stuck around in Tampa, where the Yankees prevailed by a score of 7-1 over the Tigers, while a handful of regulars and a chunk of farmhands traveled to Dunedin, where they fell 5-2 to the Blue Jays. You can find each box score here.

Here’s three takeaways from a busy Sunday:

  1. Masahiro Tanaka looked about as sharp as you can expect from a pitcher making his first spring start. After prospect Estevan Florial misplayed a line drive off the bat of Tigers prospect Daz Cameron for a leadoff triple, Tanaka retired the next three batters to expertly escape his first tricky situation of 2019. He ended up with three scoreless innings, and while he obviously didn’t have quite the velocity or command we’ll expect in about a month’s time, Tanaka showcased every part of his deep repertoire in his debut, from his slow curve and sharp slider, to each of his fastballs, to his devastating splitter.
  2. The Bombers were out en force. In the home game, Gary Sanchez hit one home run, and Aaron Judge and Brett Gardner each hit two home runs. Each of Gardner’s dingers came early in the count against Tigers lefty Daniel Norris. It may only be spring training, but it’s great to see Gardner, whose offensive decline last year has his role with the 2019 team in question, both playing and striking the ball with authority. More aggression earlier in the count, as he showed today, perhaps could help spark him at the plate this year.
  3. The roaring first-base competition continues! Both Greg Bird and Luke Voit had excellent first weeks of games, and Voit went deep in his first at-bat versus the Blue Jays. At this rate, I won’t envy the person who must make the decision about who starts at first base in the Bronx later this month, but I’m delighted that so far both players are looking to make that decision as difficult as possible.

Highlight of the Day

After a long weekend of games, the Yankees have their first scheduled off-day of the spring tomorrow. Tune back in on Tuesday when they take on the Braves.