I mentioned in the game thread post that Masahiro Tanaka has not been lucky so far this year, except for his home run rate. It was still too early to tell whether this was emblematic of an adjustment, or merely small sample size. Well, here you go. Tanaka gave up three home runs, but the Yankees offense picked him up, as they scored ten runs in a really wild game. This was not the game we drew up, but I think they're happy to ratchet up the offense when Tanaka was clearly off.
Kris Medlen, as it happens, was much worse. He got into trouble in the bottom of the first to start off the game, allowing three straight singles to Starlin Castro, Brian McCann, and Carlos Beltran. But the Yankees only scored one run, as Dustin Ackley hit a sac fly and Aaron Hicks grounded out to end the inning. Chase Headley picked up an RBI single in the second to tie the game, and the Yankees knocked Medlen out of the game in the third after he walked two batters to load the bases. Then, Didi Gregorius hit a a bases-clearing double to bring in three runs against Brian Flynn.
Tanaka's home run woes began when he allowed a solo home run to Game of Thrones character/Charles Dickens novel character/19th century robber baron Cheslor Cuthbert. Then he allowed another solo home run to Lorenzo Cain in the third inning, and the fatal blow was yet another Cain dinger in the fifth, a 445 foot blast that Statcast measured as 109 mph off the bat. Tanaka was still able to give the team length, though, as he went seven innings and retired his final eight batters.
He struck out four and did not walk a batter, but man, that home run is a bugaboo. I am obviously satisfied with the way Tanaka has been pitching and he is still, I believe, an upper echelon pitcher in the American League, but with each passing start it seems like this will be a permanent problem. Until he learns to keep his slider, sinker, and four-seamer lower in the zone, this will continue.
It seemed like the Yankees' chances of winning this game would wane as the Royals went to their shutdown bullpen. Danny Duffy and Luke Hochevar each pitched a scoreless inning in relief, but they ran into trouble in the bottom of the seventh.
Joakim Soria allowed a single to McCann with one out, and he got Beltran to two strikes. Soria technically struck him out, but he balked in the process. That allowed McCann to move to second, then Beltran grounded out to move McCann to third. Ackley squeaked a ball through the left side to tie the game, and because Soria didn't back up the plate, Ackley was able to move to second. Hicks followed that up with a double, and the Yankees had the lead. After so many games early on when this team couldn't catch a break, they catch two.
Then it seemed like the Royals' chances of winning this game would wane as the Yankees went to the Andrew Miller/Aroldis Chapman part of their bullpen, but--you guessed it--Lorenzo Cain ruined the lead and my perfectly fine recap by hitting another solo home run to tie the game at seven. It was the first run Miller has allowed all year, and it just so happened to be his first eighth inning appearance. If any of you say he can't handle the eighth inning, I will guide you to an intro stats course.
The breaks kept coming for the Yankees, though. The Royals brought on Kelvin Herrera, and he should have had two quick hits. He got Headley to ground out, and Ben Gamel would have grounded out, but Alcides Escobar bobbled the ball to allow Gamel to get on base. Brett Gardner promptly laced a double to left-center, and Gamel scored on the play. Thanks for the run, guys. They weren't done. Castro was hit by a pitch, then McCann hit a two-run double to make the score 10-7. Chapman came in for his first save situation in the ninth, and he nailed down the win.
This was... a bizarre game. The Yankees beat up on Medlen early, but it seemed like the bats were going to fall sleep as the relief came on. And just when it seemed like the Royals had everything in place, a balk, an error, and some bad pitches put the Yankees in a position to explode. Tanaka did not have a good game, but a win is a win. Guess what: the Yankees have won five of their last six games.
The Yankees will take on the Royals once again tomorrow at the same time and same place, and Michael Pineda will take on Yordano Ventura. Aren't you glad the Yankees won the first two games? You can catch the game on MLB.tv, YES, or ESPN.