What attending seven Spring Training games in one week looks like


This past week, I made it my goal to attend as many Spring Training games as I could handle. I ended up seeing seven games at five different ballparks. The amount of baseball I was about to see excited me, but I was not mentally prepared for all of the driving I had ahead of me. Starting off in my parents’ home in Orlando, I hit the road with a large appetite for some baseball.

Game 1: Twins @ Tigers
Sunday, March 12
1:05 p.m.
Starting pitchers: Sanchez (MIN) vs. Boyd (DET)

Starting off at the Spring Training site closest to me, I went down to Tigertown to watch the Detroit Tigers take on the Minnesota Twins. The Tigers were in control for most of the game, going up 8-0 in the bottom of the 3rd. The Twins scored three runs in the 6th inning, but I figured the Tigers would still pull it out. Then a near-disastrous 7th inning happened. A 2-run homer and a 2-RBI double suddenly cut what was once a massive lead down to just one run. That proved to be the extent of the damage, however, as the Tigers bullpen got it together and held off the Twins’ bats for the next two innings.

Joker Marchant Stadium before the Tigers defeated the Twins on March 12.
The view from the first base line.

FINAL: Tigers win 8-7
(W) Boyd, (L) Sanchez, (S) Wingenter

After this game I headed to Downtown Tampa to check in to my hotel, where I would spend the next three nights. It was then when I realized just how badly I got sunburnt. I foolishly forgot to pack sunscreen for my trip, so I embarked on a Target run to supply myself with a couple of travel-sized bottles and a large bottle of aloe. A word of advice: do not make the same mistake I made.

Game 2: Red Sox @ Blue Jays
Monday, March 13
1:05 p.m.
Starting pitchers: Murphy (BOS) vs. Manoah (TOR)

The following day I crossed the bay to Dunedin for an AL East matchup. Dunedin has been the Blue Jays’ spring home since the franchise’s inception in 1977, making it the longest ongoing and all-time tenure for any team. It felt the most like a baseball town; the ballpark is situated in a residential area with many houses adorned with Blue Jays flags and lawn decor. The game itself was not a close one. After going down 3-2 in the top of the 2nd, Toronto scored in each of the next five innings while keeping the Red Sox batters at bay. Bo Bichette had a two-homer afternoon and was responsible for 4 RBI. This was also the first of multiple sightings of Cy Young caliber pitchers, as Alek Manoah went 3.1 innings as the starter for the Jays.

Blue Jays fans filling in to TD Ballpark ahead of Toronto’s win over the Red Sox.
Blue Jays fans singing along to “OK Blue Jays” in the seventh inning stretch.

FINAL: Blue Jays win 16-3
(W) Manoah, (L) Murphy

Game 3: Twins @ Rays
Tuesday, March 13
1:05 p.m.
St. Petersburg
Starting pitchers: Dobnak (MIN) vs. Eflin (TBR)

For the first of two games I would attend on Tuesday, I went back across the bay to St. Petersburg. Staying at Tropicana Field for the spring due to hurricane damage to their usual site in Port Charlotte, the Rays took on the Twins. Zach Eflin, who became the Rays’ all-time largest free agency signing back in December, got the start for his second outing this spring. I already wrote a full recap of this game which you can read here. At this game I obtained the crown jewel of my trip: a baseball signed by Rays infielder Yandy Diaz.

The Rays defense returning to the dugout.
Rays’ mascot Raymond getting silly over the home dugout.
The ball I got signed by Yandy Diaz.

FINAL: Rays win 7-4
(W) Bristo, (L) Enlow

After this game concluded, I wrestled my way through Tampa afternoon traffic to get to my next game of the day.

Game 4: Blue Jays @ Yankees
Tuesday, March 13
6:35 p.m.
Starting pitchers: Hutchinson (TOR) vs. Cole (NYY)

That’s right, I found myself venturing into the Evil Empire. My two favorite teams are the Rays (bitter division rivals) and the Mets (crosstown rivals), so I felt as though I was deep in enemy territory. All jokes aside, I was awestruck at all of the big players who were on the field. The Yankees had Giancarlo Stanton and Anthony Rizzo and the Blue Jays had George Springer and Matt Chapman, both of whom did not play when I was in Dunedin the day before. The real treat of the evening was the chance to watch Gerrit Cole pitch, making that two Cy Young caliber pitchers I was in the presence of this week. The Yankees scored six runs in the 1st inning and the Blue Jays never came up with an answer.

A sellout crowd at Steinbrenner Field watching the Yankees’ victory over the Blue Jays on March 14.
Yankees ace Gerrit Cole in action.

FINAL: Yankees win 10-3
(W) Cole, (L) Hutchinson

This was the last game I saw in my first stint in the Tampa Bay area. I got up early the next morning, checked out of my hotel and made a two-and-a-half hour drive to Port St. Lucie. Weary from my long morning and now suffering from the high pollen count in the area, I persisted into Clover Park for some more baseball.

Game 5: Cardinals @ Mets
Wednesday, March 15
1:05 p.m.
Port St. Lucie
Starting pitchers: Thomas (STL) vs. Verlander (NYM)

For a brief moment my body was no longer fatigued and my nose was no longer runny at the sight of last year’s AL Cy Young winner and new Met Justin Verlander. Getting to watch this man defy Father Time and prepare for his 18th season at age 40 was one of the highlights of my week. He pitched five scoreless innings, tallying eight strikeouts and only one hit. And then, in the top of the 6th inning, it all went wrong. The Cardinals took a 2-1 lead and then I began sneezing more than before. It began to rain, though only lightly and not enough to delay the game. When the skies did clear, the sun shone on the Cardinals.

The view outside of Clover Park in Port St. Lucie.
Three-time Cy Young Award winner Justin Verlander getting warmed up ahead of his outing against the Cardinals on March 15.

FINAL: Cardinals win, 4-1
(W) VerHagen, (L) Courtney, (S) Stratton

Tired, sniffling and still recovering from my sunburn, I went to the Airbnb where I would spend three nights. After checking in, I took some allergy medicine and enjoyed a much-needed recharge in a very comfortable bed. I had planned on going to a Cardinals game in Jupiter and then a Nationals game in West Palm Beach on Thursday, but opted not to go in order to catch up on sleep and work. By Friday afternoon I was well-rested and ready for some more baseball.

Game 6: Marlins @ Mets
Friday, March 17
6:05 p.m.
Port St. Lucie
Starting pitchers: Perez (MIA) vs. Carrasco (NYM)

On the evening of St. Patrick’s Day the Mets took on the Marlins wearing green caps. I live tweeted this game, which you can find right here:

My biggest takeaway is that live tweeting is more challenging than it may seem, especially with a low phone battery and less-than-ideal cell service.

A St. Patrick’s Day crowd watching the Mets’ victory over the Marlins.
Mets starter Carlos Carrasco warming up in the bullpen.

FINAL: Mets win, 6-1
(W) Carrasco, (L) Perez

After this game I spent one more night at my Airbnb before embarking on a bear of a drive early Saturday morning. It took me three hours to drive back to St. Petersburg to watch the final game of my experience.

Game 7: Red Sox @ Rays
Saturday, March 18
1:05 p.m.
St. Petersburg
Starting pitchers: Winchowski (BOS) vs. McClanahan (TBR)

They say the phrase “Game 7” is the best in baseball. It took on a different meaning for me on Saturday. I had watched so much baseball and seen so many great players on the field this week, but it would all be over at the conclusion of this game. Shane McClanahan, who was the American League starter in last year’s All Star Game, was the fourth Cy Young caliber pitcher I got to see. Despite giving up a solo home run in the 3rd inning, he looked sharp and ready to be the Rays’ Opening Day starter. That home run ended up being the lone score by Boston, who couldn’t come back after going down 2-0 in the 2nd inning.

An outfield view of Tropicana Field during the Rays’ win over the Red Sox on March 18. Only the lower bowl sections along the first and third base lines were open for seating, though you could walk around in the standing areas in the outfield.
Rays pitcher Shane McClanahan dealing against the Red Sox.

FINAL: Rays win, 3-1
(W) McClanahan, (L) Winchowski, (S) Kelly

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