This game was an absolute nail-biter for the first six and a half innings. First off, the Max Scherzer vs. Masahiro Tanaka matchup lived up to its billing. Heck, even Bryce Harper’s home run power lived up to its billing. Tet Tanaka still threw a heck of an outing. Scherzer also lived up to his name value but unfortunately for him and the Nationals, a defensive miscue proved costly in the seventh inning as the game went from a 1-1 drama to a 5-1 laughter in few batters. The Yankees added another run in the 8th for a 6-1 victory. Oh yeah, also it’s their seventh straight victory.
Man, isn’t it more fun when Tanaka is back and is actually really, really good? Tanaka went on mound, did what he does when healthy and effective, and earned a win. I could easily end this section that way but nah, I’ll get more into it.
The only real mistake the righty made was on that 93-mph fastball to Bryce Harper in the fourth inning. McCann wanted the pitch outside but it caught too much of the plate. And well, as you know, the 2015 version of Harper punishes mistakes. That mistake also has better chance to end up in seats in the Yankee Stadium than Nationals Park and that’s exactly what happened. Thankfully, that was the only run Tanaka allowed all night. I feel like there’s no shame allowing a dinger to a monster like Harper, but then again, that ball went pretty far.
Besides that, Tanaka only allowed four baserunners for the entire game. His stuff was the usual – fastball, slider and splitter all working and being spotted well. The former Rakuten Golden Eagle pitched seven complete innings, allowed five hits, no walks and struck out six. His ERA is down to 2.48 and FIP is at a rock-solid 2.63. I think he’s not afraid of his elbow compromising the effectiveness.
Oh yeah, also, on June 9, Tanaka earned the game score of 69. Nice.
One big missed opportunity
This is still a bit of an infuriating inning to look back on. In the bottom sixth, Mark Teixeira hit a double with one out. The game was then tied 1-1 so it would have been quite golden to scratch out a run in any way possible, especially against an ace like Scherzer. After fouling off several pitches, Brian McCann managed a single to left and it became one out with runners on first and third.
Then came the weird game moment. Carlos Beltran hit a liner to center that Nats CF Michael Taylor seeeeemed to make a diving/sliding play for it but didn’t. Teixeira seemed like he had enough time to score, but, for whatever reason, he didn’t charge in and Taylor got the ball just in time to get McCann for a force out in second. That should have been a 2-1 lead right there. Teixeira has to tag up.
Open the floodgates
After missing out on a run in the sixth, Yankees almost missed out on another in seventh. With one out, Ramon Flores singled and Brett Gardner added another. Chase Headley then hit a bullet to right but it just went right to Harper. Welp, BABIP will do that for you some times. With two outs and two runners on, it was up to A-Rod to see if the Yankee offense could muster anything.
Yankees got way luckier this time. A-Rod grounded one to short. Ian Desmond got the ball and it looked like an easy force out to first at a glance but he went third to get Flores out … and it hit the Yankee outfielder and got past Anthony Rendon. That allowed the run to score. Oh my. 2-1 Yankees. If you are Scherzer and had a heck of a game like that and that’s how it ends … I wouldn’t feel great.
Nationals went to former Yankee LHP Matt Thornton to stop the bleeding. Oddly, the first thing Thornton and the Nats did was intentionally walk Teixeira. Okay. That loaded the bases with two outs and McCann was up. The Yankee catcher hit a high inside fastball for a two-run single and Beltran followed it up with another RBI-single. 5-1 Yankees. Thornton’s embedded Yankee status confirmed? Maybe. In a matter of few batters, a nailbiter became a laugher. Strange but I’ll take it. I definitely did not think the game would end 6-1.
How about Stephen Drew? The man now has four homers in last four Yankee Stadium games. Yeah his batting average is still really like, not good (.175) and his 2015 overall run production ain’t great either (66 wRC+). But I do have to admit – that .198 isolated power does pop out.
With nine home runs after today’s game, the man has a legitimate chance to reach 20 home runs for the season – provided he continues to get consistent playing time, of course. The past few games probably lengthened his leash for several more games but if his hitting continues to improve to help the club, it wouldn’t be horrible.
Box Score, Highlights, Standings, WPA:
Tomorrow, the Yankees take on the field against the Nats on 1:05 ET. “(Sometimes) Nasty” Nathan Eovaldi takes the mound and hopefully, he’ll help deliver a two-game sweep.