Masahiro Tanaka turned in the worst start of his big league career so far, failing to pick up a quality start for the first time in 17 tries. He only struck out three Twins on the night while allowing nine hits. If this was Tanaka at his worst, he's still proving just how good he is. The way things have gone lately, allowing four runs to any team has seemed insurmountable for New York's struggling offense. Tonight they found a way to pick up Tanaka, who did not have his best stuff, as he has managed to do for them on numerous occasions this season.
Big blows came in the fifth inning when Carlos Beltran drove in Mark Teixeira and Brian McCann with a three-run homer to put the Yankees ahead 3-2. Zelous Wheeler added to the scoring with his first big league hit that also found the seats to extend the lead to 4-2. It was the first of his two hits in his big league debut. The Yankees tacked on three more runs off old friend Phil Hughes in the seventh inning when Brendan Ryan doubled to drive in Ichiro Suzuki, Brett Gardner singled to score Wheeler, and Derek Jeter picked up an RBI fielder's choice that plated Ryan. When it was all said and done, the Yankees' seven runs tonight was a season-high in allowed runs for the former Yankee turned Twin.
Tanaka's seven innings allowed Joe Girardi to hand the ball directly over to the two strikeout powerhouses in the bullpen in Dellin Betances and David Robertson. Betances added to his strikeout numbers by whiffing two Twins to bring his season total to 78 strikeouts in 49 innings. Robertson, who somehow has an even better K/9 than Betances, struck out three more batters and walked one to nail down the save for the Yankees. The team needed this win after dropping five straight coming into tonight. The win brought the team back to an even .500 record on the season at 42-42 with the All-Star break looming.
Tomorrow's game is at a very unique 3:10 pm for Fourth of July festivities. Chase Whitley will be squaring off with Kyle Gibson of the Twins. Brian McCann seemed to hurt himself on a single prior to Beltran's home run which brought Girardi and the training staff out of the dugout. He stayed in the game, but Girardi expects him to miss at least tomorrow's game before trying to give it a go on Saturday. No matter how far we move away from the injury disaster that was 2013 it seems like it's always a little too close for comfort.