The New York Yankees had their first game of spring training today at George M. Steinbrenner Field in St. Petersburg, Florida. The Yankees faced the Toronto Blue Jays and lost the game 6-4. It was a landmark game in that it was the first day since March 12 that fans were allowed in the stands. Steinbrenner field holds 10,000 fans but was limited to just over 2,800 fans socially distanced in pods of two, three, and four sets separated by well over six feet. All fans wore masks, although many took them off as the game progressed.
It was as perfect a day for baseball that you could imagine. It remained about 80 degrees throughout the game under bright sunny skies and a light southerly breeze. You couldn’t ask for a better day for the first game of spring training. The only downer was that the Yankees did not win the game.
Michael King was the starting pitcher for the Yankees, and he pitched the first two innings giving up two runs. In each following inning, the New York Yankees sent a different pitcher to the mound. When the Yankees took to the field, they had the #16 on their sleeve, honoring Yankee great Whitey Ford, who passed away last season. Ford was one of the most famous of Yankee pitchers. Right up until the last Old Timer’s game, he was always there. The Yankees feel the loss of one of their Hall of Famers.
In the first inning with a Jay on base, Rowdy Tellez hit a ground-rule double that got past Aaron Judge and bounced into the right-field stands, and just like that, it was 2-0 Jays. Michael King hit two Jays players in as many innings. Cavan Baggio hit an RBI double for a 3-0 Toronto Blue Jays score, in the second inning. By the fourth inning, Blue Jay’s pitching kept the Yankees off the bases. In the third, Jonathan Davis had an RBI single making it 4-0 Jays.
Lopez scored in the fourth on a fly ball that fell short of Clint Frazier, increasing the Blue Jay lead to 5-0. In the bottom of the frame, DJ LeMahieu hit a single, Gleyber Torres doubled, and Luke Voit singled, which produced a run for the Yankees and putting them on the Board. Jays 5 Yankees 1. In the bottom of the fifth, Michael Brantley, with one-on, hit a 2 RBI homer making it 5-3 Jays.
Following Brantley, Mike Tauchman hit a towering home run onto the pavilion roof, adding another run for the Yankees, making it close at 5-4. But the Yankees failed to score for the rest of the game. In the top of the seventh, the Blue Jays tacked on another run when Logan Warmouth homered for the final score of 6-4.
During the game, New York Yankee manager Aaron Boone was interviewed by Michael Kay. Boone said he likes where his players were coming into spring training and their frame of mind. He stated that he was happy to see fans back in the stands. When asked what his major concerns were, what keeps him up at night? Boone responded the pitching, making sure he builds up the pitchers properly and being mindful of limiting innings to keep them fresh. He also talked about how this year, the team should realize the efforts of health and conditioning director Eric Cressey to keep both Judge and Stanton on the field. He left open the question if the Yankees would employ a six-man rotation. Boone said he would do what was necessary to protect the staring lineup.