Back in late May, the Yankees lost three out of four at Oakland against the lowly Athletics. They were shut down by the likes of Sonny Gray and Jesse Chavez and, by the end of the series, their record was hanging just barely over .500 at 26-25. This time around, New York took two out of three at home. Today’s game was particularly satisfying — Masahiro Tanaka pitched like an ace, the lineup was able to solve Jesse Chavez and, of course, the game win meant the series win. Oh, and The Yankees lengthened the AL East lead to three games.
In the second inning, it seemed like nothing was going right for Tanaka. With 2-0 count, Josh Reddick got on first base on catcher’s interference. Billy Butler followed it up with a RBI double to left and Ike Davis walked. That just seemed like a familiar storyline with Tanaka’s recent struggles. He did, however, get Brett Lawrie to GIDP to ease the situation to two outs and runner at third. However, Mark Canha took a fastball up in the zone for another RBI double. Womp. 2-1 Athletics.
Well, that turned out to be the only major jam for Tanaka. From the third inning and on, he allowed ZERO hits and only one baserunner, when Billy Butler reached first after the strikeout pitch escaped McCann’s glove in the fourth. That was more dominant than Tanaka has been in his past few starts and hopefully he’s figured something out. Yankees have a need for an upgrade for the rotation and Tanaka stepping up to his ace form would be huge.
When it was all said and done, Tanaka threw 7.2 innings, allowed only two hits, one earned run and struck out six. Another important thing — no homers! Home runs had been killing him a bit this year (1.52 HR/9 prior to this game) and keeping balls in park — especially at the Yankee Stadium — is a pretty good sight.
Prior to today’s game, Yankees didn’t do well against the journeyman RHP Jesse Chavez — he had held the current Yankee position players to a cumulative .235/.279/.370 line. There was a good news though: Chavez himself had been in a funk. After tossing eight scoreless versus the Yanks in May 31, the righty had been 2-4 with 5.00 ERA in 6 starts.
Chavez didn’t have a horrible outing but it was still not great. The righty tossed 5.0 innings, allowed seven hits, four runs, three walks and struck out three. That’s really mediocre and given on how brilliant Tanaka was, and the bats did a more-than-an-adequate job.
How about Cole Figueroa? He went 2-for-4 in his Yankee debut. It could have been a 3-for-4 performance too — in the second inning, he hit a hard grounder that went right to first baseman Ike Davis to end the frame, but, off the bat, I thought he could have had himself a single. He, however, catalyzed the rally in the fourth with a double to right, setting up a one-out, runners on second and third situation for Jacoby Ellsbury. Ellsbury ended up driving both in with an RBI-single for a 4-2 Yankee lead.
Figueroa contributed to another rally in the eighth, hitting a ground-rule double to set up another situation with runners on second and third. Ellsbury followed it up with what seemed to be an inning-ending ground out … but Marcus Semien threw offline and Ike Davis couldn’t handle it. Both runners scored and Semien was charged with his 28th (!!!) error of the season.
Back to Figueroa — he will probably be sent down as soon as Chase Headley is ready to play again but I would guess he’ll be up again later this season if he keeps up the 130 wRC+ he had down in the minors.
Hey Now, You’re An All Star
It’s been quite a past few days for Brett Gardner. Hot streak? Check. Being talked about as a possible All-Star? Check. Teammates campaigning for him? Check. Making it as an All Star? Check.
In his the first at-bat of the day, Gardner took a Chavez fastball deep to right field to give a 1-0 Yankee lead. That was also his tenth homer of the year — the most in his career prior to the All Star Game. At the age 31 season, Gardner is simply having his best offensive season — .303/.381/.490 line with an isolated power at .188. If you go with isolated power stat alone, he’s having a better power season power season than Adam Jones (.187), Prince Fielder (.178), Justin Upton (.175) and Troy Tulowitzki (.163). How about that?
Well, besides the homer, Gardner added two more hits later in the game for a 3-for-5 performance. To put a cherry on top, he was also announced to be injured Alex Gordon’s replacement for the All Star Game. Well, no more bald caps for other Yankee players I guess. Congrats, Brett!
Box score, standing, highlights, WPA
Yankees head to Boston to play their final series before the All-Star break. Enjoy the rest of Thursday! Maybe watch more baseball coming up later if you feel like it because that’s what I’ll probably do.