Now that’s how you start an important homestand. The Yankees created a few runs early, some more runs late, and received superb starting pitching in Monday night’s series opening 6-3 win over the Blue Jays. It’s a long holiday weekend, so I’m taking the easy way out with bullet points:
- Two Early Runs: The Yankees put up two quick first inning runs because Marcus Stroman gifted them a bunch of baserunners. Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez got the rally started with back-to-back opposite field singles, then Didi Gregorius worked a rare walk to load the bases with one out. The Yankees scored their two runs because Stroman hit Chase Headley with a 1-2 pitch and walked Jacoby Ellsbury. Riveting stuff. Doesn’t matter though. Two runs scored and the Yankees were up early.
- Tanaka’s Gem: Is Masahiro Tanaka back? I think he might be back. This was his fourth strong outing in his last five starts, and the depth on his splitter and slider looks sooo much better. Tanaka allowed one run in seven innings Monday and it was a stupid run. It scored on a hit batsman, a stolen base plus Sanchez’s throwing error, and a bloop single. Not exactly hard hit. Tanaka struck out eight and walked one. He was dominant. And he now has a 2.56 ERA in his last five starts, which includes the ugly outing against the Athletics (five runs in four innings).
- Late Insurance: The Yankees didn’t do much of anything against Stroman after the first inning. It wasn’t until the eighth that they really broke the game open. The first four batters of the inning went single (Judge), double (Sanchez), walk (Gregorius), two-run double (Headley). The Yankees added two more runs when Ronald Torreyes hit a tapper back to the pitcher, who threw home only to watch the catcher lose the ball when Gregorius slid in. As everyone stood around looking for the ball, Headley chugged home. The Yankees have been quite good at tacking on runs this year, no? Insurance runs are always appreciated.
- Bullpen Time: Given the way things have been going, I don’t think anyone felt good once the bullpen door swung open. Dellin Betances pitched the eighth with the Yankees up 2-1, and while he walked Josh Donaldson, he got hosed on some calls. Here’s the strike zone plot. Donaldson walked in a 2-5 count. A strike ’em out, throw ’em out double play ended that inning. Aroldis Chapman came in for the ninth with a 6-1 lead — he had been warming when it was 2-1 — and allowed two runs on three hits. He still doesn’t look right. Everything is max effort and hitters are fouling off 101 mph like it’s no big deal. The final out of the game was a rocket line drive right at Headley at third base. Hopefully Chapman figures it out, for the sake of this year and for the sake of the next four years.
- Leftovers: The 2-3-4-5 hitters went a combined 6-for-13 (.462) with four runs scored, three runs driven in, and two walks … Judge, Sanchez, and Headley each had two hits … Gregorius drew two walks (!) after coming into the game with seven walks on the season … Ellsbury reached base twice (single, walk) … Clint Frazier went 0-for-3 with two strikeouts in his Yankee Stadium debut. The one ball in the play was a hard-ish hit fly ball to left.
Here are the box score, video highlights, and updated standings. Don’t miss our Bullpen Workload page either. The Yankees and Blue Jays will continue this series with a Fourth of July matinee Tuesday. CC Sabathia is scheduled to come off the disabled list to make that start. Fellow lefty J.A. Happ will be on the mound for Toronto. Want to catch the game live? Check out RAB Tickets.