Wednesday, March 02, 2005

First Spring Training Game - March 2nd, 2006

Here we go, baby! First Spring Training game of the year, and the Sporting Brews is here with half-inning by half-inning commentary all the way through.

Today, it's Ryan Franklin vs. Shawn Chacon. Play ball!

Top of the First
First pitch -- ball low and away. Personally, I think we got hosed on that call. Thankfully, Rollins hit a fly ball lazy enough for Bernie to get under.
Chacon starts off with the same first pitch to Victorino, and like Rollins he's retired on the next pitch, this time a bouncer to Cano at second. A little harder and the Phils might have had a baserunner. But even Cano could catch up to it after the bounce.
First pitch strike to Burrell, followed by a second pitch strike. Ooh, the 1-2 just barely missed upstairs (I think, it might have been outside). Another fly ball, another catch, and a nine pitch inning in the books for Chacon.

Bottom of the First
Damon, baby! Leadoff double to the right field corner! Here's to many more of them to come.
Now the real No. 1 hitter, Derek Jeter, who advances Damon to third with a grounder up the middle. Would have been a hit if he got more on it, though Utley looked like he was shading up the middle. Runner on third, one out.
And here's the bat wiggle I've been missing all winter. Michael Kay just said there's no reason for Sheff DHing, "no injury or anything." Um, wasn't Torre's official reason for DHing Sheff because of his much publicized back spasms? Ugh. Infield pop. Such are the drawbacks of having such a damn quick bat. Damon on third, two out.
And here comes my predicted hero of the 2006 season, A-freakin-Rod. Of course, we get all the "now he's a real Yankee, after that MVP season," banter from Kay and Singleton. Eh, I guess there's not much else to talk about. Utley, still shading towards the middle, cleanly fields a grounder from A-Rod, and puts him away for the third out. Very disappointing.

Top of the 2nd
Here's Utley, to whom I've developed a liking. Liking or not, I still want to see Chacon put him down with that nasty curveball, but it's presence looks less likely as Chacon falls behind quickly 0-2. Fly out to Damon on what looked like a changeup makes one out.
Ah, crap. Missed Rowand making an out while getting food. Why can't I just wait until between innings?
Abraham Nunez gets it. Just hit it hard to Cano's left, and you'll probably get a hit. Runner on first, two out.
Now Alex Gonzalez (who will hit .240 this year), not to be confused with Alex Gonzales of the Red Sox (who will hit .240 this year). Smart move by Chacon on 1-2, tossing his curve well outside. You'd think a hitter like Gonzo would flail at it. Damn, another one on 2-2, and still no bite from Gonzo. Maybe the Sox signed the wrong one. Yep, he walked.
They just showed Chacon's 16 strikes to 15 balls ratio. This was his staple last season; winning games while not having a great ratio. And now a wild pitch. Oh, the guy at the plate is some guy named Kroeger. Need I make a reference here, or is it just implied at this point? Nice. Grounder right to Cano, and we're finally through with this long-winded top of the second.

Bottom of the 2nd
Let's go Juice! Is it too much of a slam dunk to predict a walk? Not so, as he smokes a single between first and second. Heh. I always get a kick out of Giambi running, and it's only funnier on the first day of the year.
Holy crap, Joe just hit-and-ran with Bernie up and Giambi on first. During the season, we'd deride him as insane. Now, I think it's kinda funny, especially since Bernie hit a single -- and I got to see Giambi run from first to third.
I'm predicting a ding dong from Jorge in this at bat. If it's worth anything, Bernie looked swift afoot getting back to first on a throw over. Not a good sign for Jorge: fly out to the warning track. That's a big uh oh for a 34, soon to be 35-year-old player. Giambi tags and scores, 1-0. And Bernie tagged from first! As bad as a sign as that is from Jorge, it's more of a good one for good old Bern.
Now for the player whose bandwagon I was immediately on last year, Robinson Cano. Single up the middle (of course, on the first pitch), Bernie scores, 2-0 Yanks. I'll be quite honest: I'm getting really excited now. I'll do my best not to be too long-winded.
Kevin Reese up now, though I'd rather see Kevin Thompson or Kevin Howard up there (I'm a big proponent of moving him to the outfield). Lazy fly, and Cano looked equally lazy getting back to first -- it was a hit and run.
Back to Damon, who is now 2-2 as a Yankee. Just turned on a pitch and sent it into shallow center for a line drive base hit.
Jeter up now, and Kay actually made an astute observation. Has 11 years ever flown by so quickly as Jeter's 11 years with the Yanks. Ooh, and he's down looking to end the inning.

Top of the 3rd
Oh, nice. Sean Henn takes over for Chacon. I'm not big on him as a starter, but his career actually has progressed along the lines of Mariano Rivera, and as such I'd like to see him in the bullpen for the 2007 team. Ooh, and the Phils nine hitter, some guy name Ruiz, hit a gapper between Damon and Reese.
Rollins up again, and we have Kay rubbing it in that Jeter, A-Rod, and Damon probably won't be around for three weeks. Yippee. The closer we get to the WBC, the more and more I hate the idea of it, nevermind the absolutely horrid timing. And I missed what he did (writing an e-mail), but he made an out.
Victorino up, and he hits a sharp grounder to Cano, which he fields cleanly, but makes a poor throw to Giambi. Thankfully, Giambi remember for a second how to play defense and scooped it right out of the dirt. Two down.
Ugh. Burrell just tied it with a shot to left-center. Wow. Just wow. Absolutely crushed. 2-2.
My boy Utley goes down looking in a rather unimpressive looking at bat.

Bottom of the 3rd
Now for Sheff, who thankfully won't be going to the WBC. New pitcher in for Philly, didn't catch his name. But man, did he make Sheff whiff on a curve. And, consequently, Sheff sent the next pitch way high and way left. Classic Sheff. Oh man, the guy got Sheff on the handles, causing him to pop out to first. One down.
Good job by A-Rod of waiting on a changeup. Bad job by A-Rod of waiting too long and weakly poking it to Utley at second. Two away.
And Giambi swings and misses, losing his bat in the process. Looks like this guy's change is something to be reckoned with.

Top of the 4th
Rowand up now, and as much as I liked the guy last year, I'm really hoping for him to bust in 2006. This is mainly because I wanted the Yanks to land him, and obviously they missed out. Like Rollins in the first, Rowand doesn't realize that all you have to do is hit the ball away from Bernie's comfort zone, and you can get a hit. But Rowand hit a lazy fly ball that lands nicely in Bern's glove.
Aaron Small is warming in the bullpen as Abraham Nunez bounces back to Henn for the second out.
Nice, another one back to Henn -- though this one had a bit more to it -- and a flip to Giambi to end the inning. Bring on Smalley.

Bottom of the 4th
Here's Bernie, and he pops out to the third base side, though the damn thing should have gotten out of play.
Ooh, where was that one? Not that I'm complaining, but Posada just took a strike that was called a ball. Another decently deep shot by Jorge, this time to center and thus caught by Rowand. Two down.
Kay just mentioned the clause in Posada's contract that will automatically vest his 2007 option. My question is, is it 81 or 63 games that will vest the option? This is the most inconsistent number I've seen all winter. Oh, and Cano just popped out to end the inning.

Top of the 5th
Snag by Jeter to begin the inning, one away very quickly. Here's the Ruiz character, whose single eventually led to Burrell tying the game. And he also can't do what Rollins and Rowand couldn't -- hit it where Bernie ain't. Two away very quickly. Have I mentioned that I really like Aaron Small?
Oh, wow, Giambi actually makes a decent play on a high chopper off the bat of Jimmy Rollins. 1-2-3 for Smally. Tell me again why he won't beat out Pavano and Wright for the starting rotation?

Bottom of the 5th
Gavin Floyd hurling for the Phils now. I first picked up on him while playing MVP Baseball last year, where he is much better than in real life.
Kevin Reese strikes out on a pitch in the dirt. Can I star the chant yet? Bub-A, Bub-A!
Can he go 3-3? Nope. Pop out to Larry Kroeger.
Oh, what a shot up the middle by Jeter! That's the Captain at his finest. Here's to 80 or so of that kind of hit during the regular season. And here's Prince Felix Escalona pinch running so that Jeter can get a head start on his trip to Arizona for the WBC. Have I mentioned that I hate the WBC yet?
Sheff draws the first walk of the day for the Yanks, bringing up A-Rod for what will probably be his final AB before Phoenix. WBC=crap.
And A-Rod grounds to third, expediting his exit. We're through five, with the score still tied 2-2.

Top of the 6th
Michael Kay just uttered the words, "for those of you keeping score at home, please stop." You think he's talking right to me?
Fly out to Kevin Thompson to start the inning, meaning two out of three Kevins have seen action today.
Oh, and there's that loathsome Pat Burrell is up again. And holy crap, he just slammed that one into the left field corner for a double. He's standing on second with one out.
Out goes Escalona for a pop fly, but quickly realizing he's not Derek Jeter, he yields to the oncoming Kevin Reese for the play. Two down.
Heh, and they're talking about Kevin Reese getting whaled by a fly ball the other day. Why can't I find pictures of this? How wouldn't this be funny?
Ah, crap. Rowand just pulled a single between short and third, allowing Burrell to score. Oh, wait. He didn't score? The ball hit him? Eh, whatever it is, the score is still tied with two outs. Let's go Smally (duh duh, duh duh duh).
Taking Damon's place, Melky Cabrera comes on to make the catch to end the inning. Now let's see if this guy can hit Grade B pitching next time around.

Bottom of the 6th
HOME RUN ANDY PHILLIPS! First pitch, baby. See, this guy always gives me a good first impression. First when he hit a double and a dinger when I was at the Stadium, and now by slamming a dinger in his first AB.
And now for Kevin No. 2, who slams another first pitch, but this time on the ground to left for a single.
Stinnett is in for Posada, and I quickly learn that I've been mispronouncing his name (I said "STIN-net" while it's acutally pronounced "stin-NET"). He gets hit by a pitch immediately following Thompson being thrown out stealing. Same situation as before, just with one out.
At least Cano is still in. D'oh! He hits a sharp grounder up the middle, only to be scooped by Rollins and turned for a DP. Oh well. We're still up 3-2.

Top of the 7th
You'd think there'd be an inning full of lefties with Mike Myers starting it off, but he comes right into face a righty. Thankfully, he gets a pop up to right, which is almost misplayed by Thompson.
Singleton beat me to the comment about Myers getting a righty out and allowing a hit to a lefty. Seems he can talk faster than I can type (and publish).
Freakin Kevin Reese. Plays the ball off a hop, which isn't bad, except the hop was about six inches in front of him. On the bright side, we got a shot of Sal Fasano at first. I am officially terrified of him.
The game seems to be flowing pretty quickly at this point. I can't even fit in any commentary before Myers gets another righty to pop out to Reese this time, who unexplainably caught the ball rather than letting it bounce first. Someone's gotta talk to him about that.
Tie game. First pitch single to center and we're tied at 3. I've never seen a more lax crowd at a tie game. Maybe it's because everyone left once Jeter, A-Rod and Damon were subbed. Maybe it's a sign I should cease.
Some guy named Mike Garrett just smoked one to left, allowing two to score. I'm done. I hope y'all gained some form of enjoyment from this. I know I did for six innings.