Yankees 2, Athletics 1: Tanaka and bullpen formula prevail for a much-needed victory

Jim McIsaac

That's an ace.

Even though Masahiro Tanaka was battling one of the best teams in baseball with a dangerous lineup and was given very little cushion by his offense, the Yankees' ace held Oakland's hitters to five hits and one run over six innings for his ninth win of the year. It was not Tanaka's most dominant outing of the season, striking out only four batters, but he walked only one and kept runs off the board to give the Yankees' scuffling offense a chance to squeak by with a narrow victory to avoid being swept.

In previous years, the bullpen formula of David Robertson, Rafael Soriano, and Mariano Rivera was what the team strived to make it to. Get it to the back end of the bullpen and everything will be okay. That has been true more often than not this season, and certainly played out today. The players are different now, of course. Dellin Betances, Adam Warren, then Robertson is the new formula, and it worked to perfection today with the team clinging to a one-run lead after Tanaka left the game. Betances struck out one batter in his inning of work, Warren allowed two hits but got two big strikeouts in the eighth inning, and Robertson struck out two in the final frame. Just like that, the Yankees' losing streak was over.

The lone blemish on Tanaka's record today was a first inning home run by John Jaso. Other than that, there was very little to complain about how he performed against one of the tougher match ups he'll face in the American League this season. He remains the AL ERA leader, dropping his season average to 2.02.

Two runs out of the Yankees' offense seems to be a bit of a pattern recently, and that was no different today. After falling behind on Jaso's home run, the Yankees' tied the game after Brian McCann singled and advanced to second on a fielding error by Brandon Moss. Alfonso Soriano drove in McCann to snap an ugly prolonged slump at the plate. Brett Gardner put the Yankees on top for good with a solo home run into the second deck in the third inning. It was Gardner's fourth long ball of the season.

Jacoby Ellsbury very nearly went yard for the second straight game when he laced a double off the very top of the wall in right field. It was originally ruled a home run on the field before replay quickly overturned the call. Ellsbury has really broken out of his May-long slump of late, reaching base three times today and stealing two bases. He is now the owner of a nine-game hitting streak. Soriano doubled on a ball that Coco Crisp lost in the sun for the Yankees' third and final extra base hit of the game. Carlos Beltran went 0-3 with two strikeouts in his return to the lineup.

The Yankees now hit the road to take on the Kansas City Royals for a four-game set this weekend. The Royals are currently in last place in the AL Central, having gone 4-6 over their last ten games. Hopefully a struggling team can get our own struggling team back on track. Chase Whitley will face Jeremy Guthrie in the first of the four games tomorrow at 8:10 pm.

You can hang around Pinstripe Alley tonight for MLB Draft coverage beginning at 6:30 with an open thread. We'll also have a post up about the Yankees' only selection tonight in the second round, as well as complete coverage of the later rounds tomorrow and Saturday.

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