The Yankees brought nearly all of their Opening Day starters to Clearwater tonight to face the Phillies, and they had some promising results. The Phillies and Yankees traded blows early, crushing big shots from starters Michael King and Matt Moore, and then the backups reflected their performance in the final frames. The Phillies were the winners at the end, thanks to an exit single.
King was a tough pitcher to place on the roster going into this start, and he did himself no favors this outing. A first hit per pitch and a double from JT Realmuto put Philadelphia in business in the first, and a walk followed by another hitter would force a run. Alec Bohm hit a one-out grounder and allowed another run to score, setting up Didi Gregorius for a three-run blast against his former team. With a bit of magic in spring training, Aaron Boone chose to take King out at this point, but was allowed to reinstall him to start the next inning.
This was a much more successful version of the upper half of the entry. Matt Moore jumped into a hole right away, giving a single to DJ LeMahieu that set up a massive two-run homer from Aaron Judge. The moon shot was Judge’s first this spring, something that had raised some concern outside the organization. Still, Boone hadn’t hesitated to call Judge’s spring a success, and it seems the power is still there.
Moore was temporarily substituted after allowing a double from Aaron Hicks, although he managed to get the next two batters out. Moore also returned for the second, but would get into trouble again in the third. This time it was Gleyber Torres who made the takeoff, throwing a ball to the left for a three-run shot that nearly landed in the same spot as Judge’s.
Unfortunately for King, his troubles didn’t end after he stayed out the rest of the first inning. The Phillies attacked him straight from the door again in the second with two singles by Andrew McCutchen and Bryce Harper interspersed for another hit-by-pitch. A walk to Rhys Hoskins and a single by Jean Segura brought home two more runs, leaving King with a count of seven runs allowed. King worked a third clean inning to end his night before handing the ball over to Jonathan Loisiga.
Scoring was still close, but the fireworks were far from over. Tyler Lyons took control to start the eighth inning 8-6 behind, quickly allowing the Phillies another four runs. The big hit came with a three-run shot from Logan O’Hoppe, and it looked like the game would be over in no time. Then the Yankees closed in in the ninth and rallied for six runs to tie the game, starting with just one shot from Chris Gittens. Armando Alvarez, Kellin Deglan, Ezequiel Duran and Estevan Florial all provided RBI shots on frame and gave the team a chance to head into the end of the ninth.
That entry was short-lived, as Nester Cortes Jr. could not avoid the exit. Luke Williams led off with a single and was tagged to second base, setting up a Johan Rojas single that was thrown to right field to end the game.
In terms of relevance to the main roster, the Yankees got everything they could have asked for from the offense and very little from their pitching today. The performances of Judge and Torres were a welcome sight for two crucial hitters, and LeMahieu continued to pick up punches. Meanwhile, King’s order seemed egregious and he suffered the consequences of letting too many men in, while Lyons practically dropped out of the conversation as the extra southpaw in the corral. Still, there are a few days left for the final decisions to be made, who knows what the rest of the competition will do in that time.