MLB.com Columnist

Richard Justice

Good things to come? Yanks' no-no matters

Good things to come? Yanks' no-no matters

LAKELAND, Fla. -- Sure, no one is going to remember all that much about a Spring Training no-hitter. Memories will fade. Everyone will move on.

Just know this: It did mean something. Skeptical of that? Check out this quote.

"It means we got made fools of," Tigers infielder Andrew Romine said. "That's what that means."

Ouch.

Romine had been the final out on a Friday afternoon in which three Yankees pitchers -- Masahiro Tanaka, Chasen Shreve and Jordan Montgomery -- combined to no-hit the Tigers in a 3-0 Grapefruit League victory.

Here's the really cool part of this deal: Regardless of when or where a game is played, there's a competitive dynamic that can't be turned off. By the eighth or ninth inning, the Tigers knew they had zero hits.

By then, most of their starters had been removed from the game, but that was irrelevant. Actually, the guys who were in the game at that point were the ones still trying to prove themselves.

Opportunities matter to every player. Suddenly, the whole thing had a bit more juice.

"We don't care what game it is," Romine said. "You could have put zero fans out there. Nobody wants to get no-hit. You may say the stats don't [count], but coming back in and seeing a zero up on the scoreboard doesn't feel good. It doesn't look good. Nobody likes it."

Girardi on combined no-hitter

There you go.

While Spring Training is about preparing for something larger, there occasionally are moments like this one. Afterwards, all the best quotes came from Detroit's clubhouse.

"There's pride involved," Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said. "You don't want to get no-hit, whether it's Spring Training, regular season or Wiffle ball in the backyard."

Yankees manager Joe Girardi laughed when someone asked if he'd saved the lineup card. For him, a spring no-hitter simply was another brick in a very impressive wall.

At 16-5, the Yanks hold the Majors' best record this spring. They've seen what they had hoped to see from most of their primetime players and the waves of young talent on the way.

Opening Day starter Tanaka began the no-hitter with 4 1/3 innings to extend his spring shutout streak to 13 1/3 frames. In three starts against Detroit, he hasn't allowed a hit in 10 1/3 innings. His split-finger fastball has its good bite. His control is precise.

Tanaka fans six in hitless start

The Yankees need their top three guys -- Tanaka, CC Sabathia and Michael Pineda -- to carry the rotation, and then they can sort out the young depth behind those guys.

"He's either been really good against us, or we've been really bad against him, some combination," Ausmus said of Tanaka. "He looked good today. He looked like he had a lot of movement today."

Suddenly, Montgomery, a 6-foot-6 left-hander who made six starts at Triple-A last season, has pitched his way into the competition. He faced 12 Tigers and retired them all after Shreve got the final two outs of the fifth inning.

Montgomery finishes Yanks' no-no

"We like him a lot," Girardi said of Montgomery. "We've said that all along. I thought he had a good breaking ball today. Used some changeups. He's got really good downward angle, which we like."

By the time Montgomery, 24, walked back to the mound for the ninth inning, he knew he'd made a statement for himself. Oh, and there was that no-hitter thing.

"I didn't really think about it until that last inning, but I kind of locked it in," Montgomery said. "I was pretty focused out there today."

Yankees defense shines in 6th

Perhaps the hardest-hit ball of the day for Detroit was Justin Upton's liner that was snagged by third baseman Ruben Tejada to end the seventh inning.

Again, no one will remember a game like this for very long. But if this spring is the beginning of something special happening for these Yanks, then we can say we saw it coming on a sunny day in Lakeland.

"Yeah, you want to see guys pitch, you want to see guys hit, play defense, run the bases," Girardi said. "I thought we did a lot of good things today."

Richard Justice is a columnist for MLB.com. You can follow him on Twitter @richardjustice. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.