That horrible road trip is finally over and Yankees ended it in a fitting way: a frustrating walk-off loss to the division rival Orioles. Masahiro Tanaka pitched one of the best starts in his Yankee career but the bats came up empty against Kevin Gausman and the O’s bullpen. The Yankees made the very questionable decision of using a 5.00+ ERA rookie bullpen pitcher to pitch in bottom of tenth and, well, they lost. At least we have Aroldis Chapman’s return to look forward to after this weekend, right?
So, most of the game was… pretty much uneventful. That doesn’t mean that it wasn’t fun to watch though. Tanaka had his A-game with his new sinker/splitter-heavy approach inducing, getting more grounders and going on to throw eight scoreless innings. This is the first time he threw 8.0 IP of no run ball since May 31, 2014 versus the Minnesota Twins. His game score of 78 is the highest since April 18, 2015 when he threw a seven scoreless against the Rays.
After CC Sabathia’s scoreless start last night, this has to be the best two-game stretch for the Yankee starters in 2016, right? I don’t think you could have asked for any more from Tanaka. His line – 8.0 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 7 K’s is quite neat. His start brought his ERA down to 2.29 while his FIP is at a nice 2.56. What stands out to me from the new Tanaka is that he’s generating more weak contact and grounders. He had 46.6% and 47.0% GB% in his first two seasons; so far in 2016, he has a 59.6 GB%, which is the second best among qualified ML starters. How about that? I think I like this version of Tanaka.
He only let baserunners in scoring position twice – third and fourth innings – and they turned out to be very harmless. Also he only let five batted balls out of the infield. He pretty much did everything to warrant a W in his line but unfortunately, that did not happen.
The Yankees had a good scoring chance in the fourth. Starlin Castro, who had been hitless in the series, led off with a double down the left field line. Brian McCann’s big fly out advanced Starlin to third, setting up runner on third with one out. However, Mark Teixeira’s ground out to first base couldn’t bring Castro in. Carlos Beltran followed it up by popping up to end the inning. Joe Girardi was also tossed by the third base umpire Chris Guccione, possibly for missing a balk on Gausman’s pre-delivery actions. The Yankee offense has been struggling for the most part (duh) and being able to squeeze a run even via balk would have been very nice for the team.
After being retired 10 in a row, Yankees got something going on with a 1 out Teixeira single in the top of seventh. Beltran, however, immediately grounded into double play to kill yet another Yankee scoring chance. What’s a good picture to summarize how offense fared tonight? Well…
The Yankees made some noise in the top of the ninth. Darren O’Day came in to relieve Gausman and got first two outs with relative ease. He allowed a single to Castro and on deck was left-handed McCann. Showalter decided to bring in Zach Britton to combat the Yankee catcher. During the at-bat, Britton threw a wild pitch that advanced Castro to second, leaving the Yankees a single shy of taking a 1-0 lead. However, Matt Wieters caught Castro napping way off the second base and threw him out to end the inning. I mean, boy, Yanks’ rotten luck with RISP has been a theme of this season and they just seem to find various of ways to keep it going.
The Yankees brought in Dellin Betances in the ninth to relieve Tanaka. After getting Chris Davis to strike out, Betances allowed a walk to Mark Trumbo. The O’s put in speedy Joey Rickard to pinch-run for Trumbo. Up next, Wieters hit a long and tall fly ball to right that seemed to hang in the air for forever… and then Dustin Ackley just barely, barely, made a jumping up against the wall and doubled off Rickard on the base paths for a double play. Rickard must have thought that the ball ricocheted off the wall into Ackley’s glove. Buck Showalter and the O’s challenged the call but Ackley clearly caught it (and the umps agreed, rightfully so).
Instead of Andrew Miller, who threw a whopping fifteen pitches in the previous nine days, the Yankees brought in Johnny Barbato to take care of the bottom of tenth. Hyun Soo Kim reached first with a Baltimore Chop infield single. Jonathan Schoop followed it up with a single to make it runners on first and third with no outs. New York *then* got Miller to relieve but they were several batters too late. Pedro Alvarez hit a sac fly to center to win the game for Baltimore. It was a kind of a fitting game (and ending) for Yankees in this awful 2-7 road trip.
Box Score, WPA, Highlights and Updated Standings
The Yankees come back to Bronx tomorrow to face the Red Sox in this weekend’s three-game series. Can you hear the enthusiasm from my writing voice? Probably not.