YANKEES 4, RAYS 0: Tanaka’s gem spurs Yankees back on track.

Well that was a MUCH-NEEDED pitching performance by Masahiro Tanaka tonight. The much-maligned pitcher tossed 9 relatively stress-free innings and it only took 29 batters to get through. A game like this is just what the doctor ordered after the shit show of a game yesterday. **BREAKING NEWS** The Red Soxs have actually lost a game to the Orioles and Yankees are back to 5 games out of the AL division lead, 3 in the lost column with 63 games to play, 10 head to head with Boston. Yankees need not settle for the Wild Card yet.

 

Tanaka-San Sons Rays by the Bay

Best start of the season here by Tanaka, by far really. It was his first complete game shut out since April 27th of last season when he outdueled Chris Sale. Chris Carter and Matt Holiday started that game at DH and 1B respectfully. Having Stanton and Bird this year, yeah, it’s way better in case you forgot. Anyways back to Tanaka. He got the complete game in a crisp 105 pitches, only getting in a bit of trouble in the 5th when he gave up a single to CJ Cron and walked Ji-Man Choi.

I don’t know about you but both the single to Cron and walk to Choi was after Tanaka was up 2 strikes in the count and I couldn’t help but think this would be the inning where everything unraveled. My anti-jinx saved Tanaka as he was able to strikeout the suddenly Yankee killing Daniel Robertson and then induce a double play.

Tanaka’s final line: 9 innings, 3 hits, 1 walk, 9 strikeouts, and of course 0 earned runs. His ERA improved to 4.09 (FIP 4.58, xFIP 3.56). Tanaka looked aggressive and at one point threw 11 straight first pitch strikes to Rays’ batters which is a recipe for his success. Too often he nibbles and can’t put anyone away, tonight we saw the opposite of that. His splitter was straight filth.

Tanaka, many could argue, is the X factor for these currently constructed New York Yankees. We know come playoff time, Severino is the #1 (hopefully he can get through this little drought he finds himself in). If Tanaka can give the Yankees more of this, it will ease a lot of minds come October. Also, no aces are coming to New York this July/August. Jacob deGrom ain’t walking through those doors. JA Happ maybe, but bottom line, if the Yankees are to win in October, they’ll need this version of Tanaka. Ironically on a night the Yankees bolster their already dominant pen (more on this on the site later) Tanaka gave everyone some good old-fashioned rest.

 

Offense Does Enough

The offense put pressure on the home team right away tonight, though it could have been a much better inning, but what would Yankee baseball be without some RISP-fail anyways? Gardy and Judge led the game with back to back hits and you’re feeling good. Naturally the next three batters went down in order. Luckily there was a passed ball on Stanton’s K so a run was able to score on Didi’s groundout to short. Its always nice to put pressure on the home team from the get-go, although more would have been beneficial. Such is life.

The next bit of offense wouldn’t come until the top of the 5th when Drury was hit by a pitch, Walker singled, and new starting catcher Austin Romine grounded out to bring in the pinch running Tyler Wade. Poor Drury can’t catch a break man. When he does get playing time, he gets his wrist knocked and is forced to leave. Part of me wonders if Boone was instructed to get him out after some sort of communication from the front office. It’s no secret Drury is a trade chip for the Yankees this deadline season and a serious injury would suck on that front. Alas the X-rays were negative, and Drury should be day-to-day.

Back to Romine quickly. Despite however you feel about Sanchez, the Yankee lineup is better off having him in there. His presence is much more intimidating and his groin issues suck. It is nice to have Romine though who won’t wow you with his hit tool but always seems to be at least productive with his outs given the right situation.

Romine would also get another RBI in the 7th when it looked like the offense might truly breakout. Andujar started the inning off with a single and Bird hit a double off the catwalk (about time we got some positive action from that thing this year). 2nd and 3rd, no outs, okay that’s good! Then Tyler Wade, in for Drury, struck out on an off-speed pitch in the dirt, the only type of pitch he was willing to swing on in that at bat. Neil Walker was intentionally walked (probably for the last time in his career) and Romine sacrifice flied for the second out. Some runs are better than no runs I guess!

Last run came in the top of the 9th when Miggy led off with a double, because that’s what Miggy does. He hits doubles. Eventually Neil Walker(!!) singled him in for his first multi-hit game in decades and possibly his last of this year/career (but seriously, thank god Gleybae is coming back tomorrow).

 

So, What about Tomorrow?

Yankees will see old friend Nathan Eovaldi in what will probably be his last start as a Tampa Bay Ray. I’m sure he is devastated. Eovaldi’s line last time he faced the Yankees June 15th? 7.1 innings, 8 hits, and 5 earned, although he had only given up 2 runs over his first 7 before he and the bullpen wet itself.

Look for Eovaldi to give the Yankees a solid effort in what will be an audition for all buyers in the MLB this deadline. Hell, even the Yankees could look to trade for him. Countering Eovaldi is Luis Cessa, who looks to build off of his nice scoreless 6 inning start against the Orioles a few weeks ago. Cessa really has a chance to put a strangle hold on that 5th man in the rotation spot (that is until a trade is inevitably made within the next week). Game time is weird as it’ll be starting exactly at Noon. Let’s take this series please? Thanks.

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