The first game of the spring training season was held between the New York Yankees and the Toronto Blue Jays. It was a beautiful sunny day at George M. Steinbrenner Field in Tampa, Florida; a full house stadium was ready for a good game. The game-time temperature was 68 degrees with a light breeze. And to start the game, J.A. Happ breezed through the first inning striking out the first three Toronto Blue Jays. Happ was 12-8 last season, and the Toronto Blue Jays pitcher Trent Thornton was 6-8. The Yankees were scoreless in the bottom of the first frame. At the top of the second Happ went one, two, three, with just nine pitches.
Yankee prospect Michael King took over for Happ in the third. King allowed two runners on base but got out of it with a fantastic out by Gio Urshela. Both teams ended up using eight pitchers in the game. In the sixth, Nick Tropeano gave up a hit that allowed the Jays Alejandro Kirk to score, making it 1-0 Jays. At the top of the seventh, Luis Avilan gave up another run allowing Anthony Alford to increase the score to 2-0 Toronto.
In the top of the ninth Yankee pitcher, Brooks Kriske pitched a perfect three up three down inning. At the bottom of the ninth, Chris Gittens got a homer off Toronto Blue Jay pitcher Jake Petricka giving the Yankees some hope of a comeback. But Kyle Holder grounded out, followed by Armando Alvarez striking out ending the Yankee rally and giving the Toronto Blue Jays the win (2-1).
The Yankees left 5 on base while going 0-6 with men in scoring position. There was one error committed by catcher Kyle Higashioka on an off-center throw to second. Nick Tropeano took the loss for the Yankees and A.J. Cole took the win with Jake Petricka getting credit for the save.
Both teams showed early spring training rust, but overall the Jays were more aggressive on the base paths, stealing two bases. The Yankee players, most of which were 3rd string players after the third inning, only managed three hits off Jays pitching. If there was any saving grace for the Yankees, it was that starter J.A. Happ had two clean innings and not just clean, but he was impressive. It’s important for the Yankees that Happ pitches well as he is now moved up the number four starter. With the possible injury to ace Luis Severino, he may find himself as the number three starter behind Gerrit Cole and Masahiro Tanaka. The Yankees know the kind of pitcher Happ can be and he showed his stuff in this first spring training game.