Tanaka, Wheeler get Yankees back to .500 with 7-4 win over Twins

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A win! Those are always fun. Two rookies (technically!) helped the Yankees snap their five-game losing streak with a 7-4 win over the Twins on Thursday night. The Bombers are now 14-3 all-time at Target Field and 42-42 on the season.

(Hannah Foslien/Getty)
(Hannah Foslien/Getty)

Zelous Makes Everyone Jealous With Strong Debut
It’s amazing. The Yankees dropped an unproductive player from their roster and replaced him with someone who was hitting very well in Triple-A, and it improved the offense for at least one night. Zelous Wheeler‘s first day as a big leaguer went very well thanks mostly to a fifth inning solo homer off Phil Hughes. It’s always neat when a guy hits a homer in his first MLB game. Wheeler singled in the seventh inning to help set up another run as well.

The solo homer was not the big blow of the night. Far from it. The Yankees fell behind 2-0 early on but broke out for four runs in the fifth, three on Carlos Beltran‘s three-run homerun. It’s fun being on the other end of Phil’s #obligatoryhomer, isn’t it? Mark Teixeira and Brian McCann both singled to right to set up Beltran’s homer. Nothing fancy, Hughes just left a pitch out over the plate and it went a long way. This game had a very “here we go again” vibe early after the Twins scored, but the four-run fifth inning was just what the team needed. Hooray dingers. Hooray runs.

(Hannah Foslien/Getty)
(Hannah Foslien/Getty)

Not Quality
By almost any measure, this was Masahiro Tanaka‘s worst start as a big leaguer. He allowed a career-high four earned runs on a career-high nine hits while striking out a career-low three batters. Three of the nine hits were doubles to the wall. It was his first non-quality start of the season. Tanaka only threw 85 pitches in his seven innings of work, so there was plenty left in the tank, but he wasn’t sharp and he’s going to close out the first half with three straight starts on normal rest. Not at all a bad move by Joe Girardi to get his ace out of there with a comfortable lead.

Tack-On Runs
The four-run fifth inning was great but it was not going to be enough. The Yankees rallied for three more runs in the seventh thanks to a walk (Ichiro Suzuki), a single (Wheeler), a one-run double (Brendan Ryan), a one-run single (Brett Gardner), and a one-run fielder’s choice (Derek Jeter). Four straight batters reached base to end Hughes’ night. He allowed a season-high seven runs.

With the big-ish lead and Tanaka not sharp, Joe Girardi handed the ball to the rested Dellin Betances and David Robertson for the final six outs. Betances struck out two in a perfect eighth and Robertson struck out the side while walking one in the ninth. Betances now has a 14.33 K/9 (42.6 K%) while Robertson is at 16.01 K/9 (44.3 K%). Those two are some kind of weapon at the end of games. They don’t even let the other team put the ball in play. It’s so awesome.

(Hannah Foslien/Getty)
(Hannah Foslien/Getty)

Leftovers
The Yankees managed to record a 9-4-2-5-7 putout in the first inning. Chris Parmelee doubled to right and, long story short, he was caught in a rundown trying to advance to third on the play. It ended with Gardner tagging him out near the shortstop position. Not every day you see an outfielder apply a tag for an out near second base.

Teixeira, Ichiro, and Wheeler all had two hits while Gardner, McCann, Beltran, and Ryan had one apiece. Ichiro drew the only walk — the Yankees have drawn no more than two walks in six of their last seven games — and the only players who failed to safely reach base at least once were Jeter and Jacoby Ellsbury. Ryan’s double was his first extra-base hit of the year. I know he was hurt for a while and is a rarely used backup infielder, but geez.

Scary moment in the fifth inning, when McCann came up limping on his single to right. There didn’t appear to be any kind of misstep or anything like that, he just reached for his left foot/ankle after getting to first. He remained in the game and afterwards Joe Girardi said McCann was sore and would likely sit on Friday. It’s a day game after a night game anyway.

Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings
MLB.com has the box score and standings, FanGraphs some additional stats, and ESPN the updated standings. The Blue Jays lost and the Orioles won, so they are now tied atop the AL East. The Yankees are 3.5 games back of both the division lead and the second wildcard spot.


Source: FanGraphs

Up Next
It’s a Fourth of July matinee. These two teams will play the second game of this four-game set on Friday afternoon, when Chase Whitley gets the ball against Kyle Gibson.

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DotF: Mateo and Palma lead GCL Yanks to yet another win
Mailbag: Cashman, Gardner, IFAs, Run Support
  • Dalek Jeter

    Two Rookies! You’re technically correct! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hou0lU8WMgo&feature=kp

    • Yankee$

      Don’t get technical.

  • nycsportzfan

    Is Dellin Betances considered a rookie? Hes only played 7.2inn before this yr, but in 2 separate yrs. Does that matter? Because that dude would have to be in the ROY race along with Tanaka, the more Tanaka shows hes human(still a beast). But Dellin still is pitching at a non-human rate.lol

    • tom

      Most of them were in September and I don’t believe he was being active for more than 10 days so he is still rookie.

      • nycsportzfan

        Thanks Tom.

    • Jorge Steinbrenner

      He’s a rookie.

      • nycsportzfan

        Think we might have 1 and 2 in ROY race on the Yanks?

        • Old Man Time

          Yankees may have the number 1 OR number 2 in the race, but not both spots. Tanaka, Jose Abreu and George Springer are probably your current top three.

          • nycsportzfan

            True. Even though the postseason isn’t supposed to count towards votes, Betances could really get noticed if the Yanks make a run. That’d probably be his best shot.

            • vicki

              it’s not a matter of what they’re supposed to consider; bbwaa voters submit their voters before the postseason even starts.

              • vicki

                *submit their votes

          • Old Kinderhook

            I miss the glorious six weeks of Solarte.

  • Glenallen Hill’s #1 Fan

    I didn’t get a chance to see the game, but Tanaka’s line doesn’t look up to his typical excellent performance. How’d he look tonight? Any cause for concern?

    • Jorge Steinbrenner

      Four runs in seven innings. K’s were lower. Gave up a few more hits than usual. Whatever.

    • vicki

      they hit him solidly; and but for tootblantastic parmalee and fuld’s hard-hit double-play liner to teix to end the 7th, they could’ve scored several more than four. but tanak threw 116 pitches his last start, and he’s earned the right to look a little tired for once.

    • Old Kinderhook

      Mike and the media folks say it was his first non-quality start, which confuses me. I thought the definition of quality start was innings with no more than 3 earned runs. Tanaka-san accomplished that.

      Should going out for the 7th inning and giving up another run be able to negate the quality start he had already put in the books through the first six?

      • karcotte

        Yes that is how the stat works. The silliest part is when a pitcher goes 8 or 9 innings giving up 4 ER, his era is the same or better than 6 and 3 ER, but no QS.

      • MB923

        “Should going out for the 7th inning and giving up another run be able to negate the quality start he had already put in the books through the first six?”

        Yup, that’s what it does

        Put it this way, 6 innings 3 ER (4.50 ERA) is a quality start. 9 innings, 4 ER (4.00 ERA) is Not a quality start.

        QS can be flawed, but then again, every stat can be.

  • fred robbins

    how about that… maybe this will be just the impetus needed to bring up a few more kids and let them play…even if it’s just for that initial burst of hits and good energy– like Solarte had when he first came up… a few guys like that all at the same time could really infuse some energy in this team.
    Yay!

    • http://www.staggeringbeauty.com/ ALZ

      Let’s judge by more than one game. Zelous could be good, but this also very well may be his best game he will have in his mlb career.

    • Macho Man “Randy Levine”

      Exactly. Because it worked so well with Solarte once he got a substantial amount of at bats.

  • Jorge Steinbrenner

    You always love the story of the unheralded, hard-luck guy who finally gets his chance and has the game of his life. Enjoy the ride, Mr. Wheeler, however long it may last. Seemed like a hell of a nice guy during his post-game interview.

    Not that I wish ill onto Phil Hughes but, for all the bellyaching you hear from the usual tortured souls on here, it seems exactly like Phil Hughes to pitch like an All-Star for several months before crashing back down to earth.

    • Old Man Time

      mick taylor and willie w refuse to acknowledge that this game occurred.

  • tom

    Tanaka’s first non-quality start was just happened. Waaaahhhh!!!!

  • ropeadope

    Wheeler OBS >>>>> 1,750

    • Evan3457

      More than 1,750 obs? That sure is a lot of obs!

  • BigBlueAL

    A throwback win tonight. Great game for the offense, decent starting pitching and great late-inning relief. Its 2004-2012 all over again lol.

  • nycsportzfan

    Anyone think Ichiro is gonna get the needed 210Hits to reach 3000 for his ML career?

    I don’t think so personally, but it also woulden’t surprise me if he just gets there.

    • WhittakerWalt

      He’ll latch on somewhere for long enough, even as a spare part.

      • W.B. Mason Williams

        Agreed. He’ll get it down below 150 probably this year and then spend a few years as a bench piece collecting the rest.

        Guy still plays D and has some speed left in those legs. Valuable bench piece at worst.

        • nycsportzfan

          Oh, I said before the yr that I thought Ichiro could have another 3-4 yrs to his career as a bench role player because of his defense, speed, and knowledge of the league.

          But even still, its gonna be tough as a bench piece. Hes gonna have to play at least 2more yrs after this one, I would think. I think its gonna be super close. His speed/defense might be the reason he just gets there. I still lean towards no and hope Yes.

  • Rick

    The reason Gardner had to make the tag on Parmalee after the double into the right field corner with two outs and a man on first was that Jeter was backing up the relay on the first base line. Just like he was on the “flip play”.

  • https://twitter.com/KramerIndustry Dr. Martin van Nostrand

    At least, in this case, that +11 record at a ballpark against a given opponent won’t be able to dry up so quickly. Hooray for that.

    Going back to 2009, the Yankees have a 18-3 record in Minnesota. Wow.

  • nycsportzfan

    How cool was the Wheeler postgame interview? Gotta love that.

  • willie w

    no way Hughes should be an all star this year

    • OldYanksFan

      Phil’s 3.95 ERA (after last night’s game) is EXACTLY league average. However, any Pitcher on the Twins with a Winning record automatically makes the All-Star team.

  • nycsportzfan

    Wow, I never realized Cappy had a 50steal season in the Minors(1994).

  • Wayne

    The more i think about it i think yanks will Make move for David Price to pitch along with tanaka in rotation and possibbly a second trade for a third starter.
    Here are my latest mock trades.

    Gary Sanchez, Luis Severino, Aaron Judge , Ian Clarkin , Dustin Fowler and Simón De la Rosa as player to be named later for David Price.
    Tampa Rays will ask for no more than that. Does anyone think that is enough to get you David Price? I sure do.
    If Hal gives up anymore than that he is just throwing the farm away and he is completely mindless.
    Yeah David Price and Masahiro Tanaka that would be a great one two punch in playoffs.

    But for us to get third starter we have to get fourth and fifth starters from our minors i believe and trade them. Shane Greene and Bryan Mitchell should step up as fourth and fifth starters for a team for now but could eventually be better so trade them along with Rafael de Paula and Gosuke Katoh for Jason Hammel. So There is your third starter.

  • Cameron

    McCann hit himself in the foot on the back swing when he got that hit. That’s why he was hurting.