It wasn’t on television in New York, it was barely on the radio, and it rained halfway through, and was called after seven, but that didn’t make Joely Rodríguez’s meltdown any more palatable. The Yankees’ B-squad thus lost to the Detroit Tigers, 5-3, Thursday afternoon in Lakeland, Florida.
With a starting lineup filled with backups and minor leaguers, the main story going into the game was Clarke Schmidt. Headed into his age-26 season, the right-hander has battled injuries since undergoing Tommy John surgery in April 2017, and has only 12.2 big league innings under his belt so far. Making his first start this spring, Schmidt’s primary goal today was to get through the outing healthy, and hopefully in the process show some signs that he could make an impact in the Bronx this season.
There, Schmidt delivered, allowing just two hits in two scoreless frames, striking out three and walking none. Schmidt did get into a bit of trouble in both innings, allowing a single to Victor Reyes and plunking Jonathan Schoop with one out in the first, then surrendering a leadoff triple to Willi Castro in the second. In both instances, however, he worked out of trouble. He fanned Jeimer Candelario and got Miguel Cabrera to line out to second baseman José Peraza to strand Reyes at second, and struck out Dustin Garneau and Daz Cameron to keep Castro at third before inducing a Kody Clemens lineout to left to end the second inning.
JP Sears came on in relief, and he echoed Schmidt’s performance with two scoreless innings of his own, allowing three hits but striking out four and walking none. Jonathan Loáisiga followed him with a nice, clean, 1-2-3 inning — standard for the 2021 bullpen ace.
Meanwhile, the Yankees offense struggled to get anything going against Detroit starter Casey Mize. Marwin Gonzalez and Anthony Rizzo opened up the game with back-to-back strikeouts, and while a Miguel Andújar walk and José Peraza double put runners on second and third, Ender Inciarte could not bring them home, flying out to left field. That would be the most stress Mize would be under in his three innings of work, as he struck out the side in the second and retired David Freitas, Gonzalez, and Rizzo in order to end the third.
After Mize left the game, Joe Jimenez largely continued to stifle the Yankees bats, although he did allow a pair of singles to Andújar and Phillip Evans (although neither runner scored). Once Miguel Del Pozo came on to pitch in the fifth, however, the offense roared to life. With one out in the inning, Freitas drilled a double to right field, then advanced to third on a passed ball.
Of course, that passed ball did not matter, as Gonzalez recorded his first hit, his first RBI, first run scored, and first home run in pinstripes to give the team a 2-0 lead — not a bad way to redeem yourself after two strikeouts.
The non-roster invitee and former Astro is hoping that his versatility can help him grab one of the Yankees’ last Opening Day roster spots. With a 28-man crew for April, it’s certainly possible, and homers can’t hurt.
Rizzo followed Marwin’s blast with a walk, then put himself in scoring position by stealing second. Andújar himself doubled, advancing Rizzo to third. Peraza then doubled — the team’s fourth extra-base hit of the inning — driving in Rizzo, sending Andújar to third, and driving Del Pozo from the game. Inciarte then drilled a line drive to second base, but Schoop made the play and then doubled off Andújar, who thought the ball was headed into the outfield, to end the inning.
Bryan Garcia set down the Yankees in order in the top of the sixth, an inning that lasted more than a half hour due to a rain delay. At this point, the Yankees swapped out the entire lineup and brought Joely Rodríguez in to pitch. Unfortunately for Joely, it simply wasn’t his day.
Candelario welcomed Rodríguez to the game with a first-pitch home run. Josh Lester also drilled the first pitch he saw, singling to right field. The third pitch Rodríguez threw was a Castro single, sending Lester to second. Eric Haase saw six pitches, but the result was no better for the Yankees lefty: he doubled the ball into the left-center field gap, driving in Lester and Castro to tie the game at three.
Catcher Rob Brantly brought Haase in to score during a bad sequence. When Rodríguez fanned Eric De La Rosa, he was forced to throw the ball to first because he couldn’t field the ball cleanly; Haase went to third on the throw. Then, Brantly committed a passed ball, allowing him to score the go-ahead run. Zack Short grounded out to third base, but Jack Lopez homered to deep center field — a ball that may have been carried a bit by the wind — to give the Tigers a 5-3 lead and ending Rodríguez’s afternoon. Barrett Loseke came on in relief, immediately walked Jacob Robson, then got Isaac Parades to ground into a fielder’s choice to end the inning.
The seventh inning was rather quiet for both teams, with Miguel Diaz and Albert Abreu shutting down the Yankees and Tigers lineups, respectively. At this point in time, with more rain in the forecast and already past 4:00 pm, both teams decided to call it there instead of risking injury in the wet conditions.
Well, no matter. Let’s forget this one, like, right after you’re done reading this, and move on to tomorrow’s game. The Yankees will be facing the Philadelphia Phillies tomorrow in Clearwater, with Luis Severino expected to get the start, going up against Kyle Gibson. Once again, this game will not be on YES, but we will still be here to provide as much coverage as we can.