Two wins in a row! Hooray for that. It’s been a while since the Yankees have done that. Last week was not so good, as I’m sure you remember. The Yankees hammered the Rays on Wednesday night for an 11-5 win. They’re now 79-72 and they continue to hang around in the postseason race.
Seven Early Runs
This one looked like a laugher after only one inning. It was obvious early Alex Cobb didn’t have it, even though the Yankees didn’t exactly knock him around the park. Their three-run first inning was the result of four soft-ish ground ball singles and a walk. Gary Sanchez, Brian McCann, and Ronald Torreyes singled in the runs. All on seeing eye grounders. Usually the Yankees are on the wrong end of a rally like that.
The second inning was more of the same, at least at first. Donovan Solano and Brett Gardner picked up two more ground ball singles, then Sanchez did what Sanchez does, and that’s hit the ball out of the ballpark. His 18th homer of the season was a three-run shot down the left field line. Cobb made a mistake and left a changeup up in the zone, and a changeup up in the zone is basically a batting practice fastball. The Yankees were up 6-0 before Cobb recorded his fifth out.
McCann and Mark Teixeira singled and doubled after the Sanchez walk, respectively, ending Cobb’s night. Didi Gregorius got the team’s seventh run in with a sacrifice fly against reliever Steve Geltz. The final line on Cobb: seven runs on nine hits and a walk in 1.1 innings. Egads. Not all of those hits were rockets, but still. He was fooling no one. The Yankees had no trouble getting the bat on the ball and the hits kept falling in.
One Bad Inning, To The Extreme
For the first time in his MLB career, Masahiro Tanaka allowed four home runs in a game Wednesday night. All four came in one inning too. The third inning. That’s no good. At least they were all solo shots. Bobby Wilson, Evan Longoria, Brad Miller, and Corey Dickerson did the honors. Longoria, Miller, and Dickerson hit them back-to-back-to-back. That was … unexpected. Look at the pitch locations, via Brooks Baseball:
Two of the four were on pitches up in the zone, one was a golf shot on a pitch below the zone, and the other was down. All four homers came on offspeed pitches. That all happened after Tanaka walked Alexei Ramirez and Jaff Decker back-to-back with two outs in the second. His location was not good. That meant walks in the second inning and dingers in the third. I guess I should note all four homers barely cleared the wall, I’m talking first row, but still, a homer is a homer.
Anyway, because he’s such a damn stud, Tanaka settled down and retired ten of the final 12 batters he faced to complete six full innings. Joe Girardi had relievers warming in the fifth and sixth, so he was ready to pull Tanaka at the first sign of danger, but it never came. The four homers didn’t phase him. The one bad inning was just that. One bad inning. It didn’t snowball into a disaster start.
The end result: 6 IP, 7 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 2 BB, 5 K. Tanaka had allowed four runs total in his previous three starts and six runs total in his previous six starts. August 13th against the Rays at Yankee Stadium was the last time Tanaka allowed four runs in a start. It was only the ninth time in 31 starts that he allowed four runs in an outing. That is: good. Even with the four dingers, Tanaka still leads the AL With a 3.07 ERA. His Cy Young chances took a hit, no doubt, but he’s still in the race.
The Late Innings
The four homers turned a comfortable 7-0 lead into an annoyingly small 7-4 lead. Blah. Sanchez took matters into his own hands in the sixth inning and clubbed yet another home run, this one a solo blast to left-center field. I don’t even know what to say. That’s 19 homers (!) in 45 career games, a new big league record. The previous fastest to 19 homers was 51 games by Wally Berger with the 1930 Boston Braves.
Sanchez’s second homer stretched the lead to 8-4, and after Miller took Adam Warren deep for a solo homer in the eighth, the Yankees tacked on three more runs in the ninth. Mason Williams had a run-scoring single and Solano smacked a two-run dinger. How about that? The two teams combined for eight homers on the night. The wind must have been blowing out at the Trop. Warren (four outs), Tommy Layne (one out), Tyler Clippard (one out), and Jonathan Holder (three outs) did the damn thing out of the bullpen.
McCann went 4-for-5 and was only the second most productive catcher in the lineup. Sanchez went 3-for-5 with two homers and a walk to raise his batting line to .337/.410/.747 (203 wRC+). The walk was his 19th of the season, which means a) he has more walks than Gregorius (18), and b) he has a healthy 10.1% walk rate. I’ve been really impressed by Sanchez’s plate discipline. Pitchers have tried to get him to chase off the plate, but no dice.
Everyone in the starting lineup had a hit except Jacoby Ellsbury, who drew a walk following his two-game absence with a knee injury. Gardner and Williams each had two hits and Solano had three. The wrap-around 8-9-1 portion of the lineup went a combined 7-for-16 (.438) and scored five runs. The Yankees had 17 hits overall, their fourth highest total of the season. Their season high is 20 against the White Sox back in July.
And finally, the Astros and Mariners won while the Blue Jays and Orioles lost. The Tigers are stuck in a lengthy rain delay as of this writing. The Yankees are 2.5 games back of the O’s for the second wildcard spot and two back in the loss column. There are four teams ahead of the in the standings with eleven to play. Still a chance.
Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings
For the box score and updated standings, go to ESPN. MLB.com has the video highlights. Don’t miss our Bullpen workload and Announcer Standings pages. Here’s the stress-free win probability graph:
The Yankees will look to finish the sweep when these two clubs play their season series finale Thursday night. Luis Cessa and Blake Snell are the scheduled starters.