It was an action-packed contest from the get-go between the Yankees and Blue Jays, but you wouldn’t know it if you didn’t have access to the online away radio broadcast. For a league that is desperate to expand its audience, this game served as yet another reminder of how far MLB has to come when it comes to broadcast distribution and accessibility.
Enough with the negatives, however. The Yankees won while clubbing a bunch of homers, and it is around those facts that we shall focus our attention.
Out of the starting gate, Gerrit Cole looked as sharp as he has across his previous two spring outings. Pouring in high-90s fastballs, he struck out George Springer and Matt Chapman to open the game. Not to be outdone by their ace, the Yankees offense put on a scoring display to blast poor Drew Hutchison from the contest having only converted one out.
DJ LeMahieu kicked things off with a leadoff home run, followed by a Giancarlo Stanton single and Anthony Rizzo double to put man on second and third for Josh Donaldson. The embattled veteran third baseman has looked beyond rusty to begin the spring, so it’s encouraging to see him show his first signs of life with a three-run home run on a mis-located 2-2 changeup that is exactly the type of mistake he should be punishing.
The Yankees ended up batting around in the frame, with another struggling player, Estevan Florial, collecting his first dinger of the spring. The switch-hitter launched a two-run shot following a Willie Calhoun walk to make it 6-0 Bombers. They ended up clobbering Hutchison for six runs on six hits (three home runs) and two walks before he was mercifully pulled for Jay Jackson.
Cole appeared to be cruising through the first two innings, striking out a pair in each. He hit his first snag of the spring in the third inning, allowing a leadoff single to old friend Rob Brantly to set up a Rainer Nunez two-run home run. The 22-year-old fringy prospect isn’t even on the Jays’ 40-man and has yet to play above High-A, but even those players will make you pay for throwing a first pitch middle-middle slider.
I’ve always felt that the best teams respond immediately after conceding runs, and that’s exactly what the Yankees did with help from Oswald Peraza. The top prospect crushed a middle-middle fastball 104 mph for a 408-foot, line-drive, no-doubter home run to the depths of left-center field. He is currently battling with fellow top prospect Anthony Volpe and incumbent stopgap Isiah Kiner-Falefa for the starting shortstop job, and while he hasn’t quite lit the spring afire like Volpe, the superlative defender has perhaps tellingly been handed the bulk of reps at short while Volpe has moved around between short, second, and third.
Today was the first time that anyone has touched Cole this spring, and to be fair he only made two mistakes in 70 pitches — the slider to Nunez and a meatball fastball to Brantly in a two-strike count. The velocity and command of the majority of his four-seamers was encouraging. He surrendered his third run of the outing in the fifth, giving up a leadoff Brantly double and two-out Daulton Varsho double to drive the former in, leading Aaron Boone to call on Michael King out of the bullpen. Cole’s final line on the night: 4.2 innings, six hits, three runs, no walks, and six strikeouts, throwing 56 strikes on 70 pitches.
The game more or less wound down to a mostly uneventful finish following Cole’s exit. King, Wandy Peralta, Ian Hamilton, and Tyler Danish combined to give the Yankees 4.1 innings of scoreless relief. Just as he did in the Yankees’ first exhibition against the Pirates, slugging infield prospect Andres Chaparro stamped a late exclamation mark on the game. Following a pair of two-out singles in the eighth, Chaparro demolished a 2-1 fastball 107 mph for a mammoth 432-foot three-run blast to bring us to our final score: 10-3, Yankees.
Fans hoping to watch their favorite team play will actually receive the ability to do so tomorrow, as the Yankees take on the Phillies at GMS Field. Luis Severino gets the start against Aaron Nola with first pitch scheduled for 1:05 pm ET, so be sure to join us in the game thread.