For the second straight game, the Yankees went with their blueprint. Things didn't go quite as swimmingly as yesterday: Masahiro Tanaka wasn't sharp, the bullpen big three wasn't perfect, and the offense failed to punish White Sox starter Miguel Gonzalez for his mistakes. However, some late game heroics, including Carlos Beltran's 400th career home run, ensured the result: a tight, 7-5 victory.
The Yankees wasted no time getting on the board, recording a run within four pitches from Gonzalez. Brett Gardner and Jacoby Ellsbury each singled, with Ellsbury going to third on Gardner's grounder up the middle. Beltran brought Ellsbury home with a sacrifice fly to left. 1-0, good guys.
The White Sox struck right back in the second. After relying solely on his sinker, splitter, and slider in the first inning, Tanaka started Melky Cabrera with two curveballs, both of which missed. Tanaka ended up issuing a one out walk to Cabrera, and followed that with a walk to Brett Lawrie. Avisail Garcia brought Cabrera home to even the score, though Tanaka bounced back to whiff both Alex Avila and Tyler Saladino to end the frame.
Adam Eaton broke the tie with a majestic solo home run to lead off the third. Tanaka hung a splitter up in the zone, and Eaton yanked it into the bullpen:
Tanaka worked himself into more trouble, walking Todd Frazier and yielding a double to Cabrera. He avoided further damage by striking out Lawrie to end the inning.
Gonzalez handed the Yankees a golden opportunity in the bottom of the third. After a one out single by Gardner, Gonzalez lost the strike zone, issuing four-pitch walks to both Beltran and Mark Teixiera to load the bases. McCann fouled out, but Castro managed an infield single to score Gardner. Gonzalez then walked Dustin Ackley to put the Yankees on top, 3-2. Didi Gregorius nearly broke the game open, launching a rocket into the seats to the wrong side of the right field foul pole, but ended up grounding out meekly to finish the rally.
No lead was safe, however. Base hits from Garcia and Saladino put runners on the corners in the top of the fourth. The White Sox got creative to tie the score, having Eaton drop down a squeeze sacrifice bunt to bring home Garcia. Austin Jackson followed with a weak liner to center that delivered Saladino to the plate and the lead to the White Sox, at 4-3.
Tanaka seemed to be in trouble all day, allowing 11 baserunners across five innings of work. He did strike out seven, and at least managed to prevent the White Sox from putting up any crooked numbers. Still, he struggled with command throughout, and saw his ERA inflate to 3.51.
It was a similar story for Gonzalez. The Yankees had him on the ropes all afternoon but failed to deliver a knockout. He exited with two on and two out in the fifth, only for Gregorius to pop out against Dan Jennings. Gonzalez ended has day having allowed three runs, scattering five hits across 4.2 innings. He walked five and struck out just one.
One of the highlights of the day came in the top of the sixth, when Saladino attempted a steal with Kirby Yates in for Tanaka. McCann's throw was high, and Saladino appeared to slide in safely, but a leaping Gregorius managed an acrobatic tag on Saladino's foot. A Joe Girardi challenge overturned the initial safe ruling. It was a remarkable play from Gregorius:
The biggest hit of the game appeared to belong to Beltran. With New York trailing 4-3 in the sixth, Beltran deposited a Zach Duke offering in the left field seats. The two run shot gave the Yankees a 5-4 lead, and made Beltran the fourth switch-hitter ever to reach 400 career homers. Teixiera, at 397, will be looking to become the fifth any day now.
But a long day of lead changes continued. Girardi went to Dellin Betances in an effort to lock down another close win, but Betances immediately allowed three straight hits to start the seventh, with Cabrera's RBI double scoring Jose Abreu to tie the game. Betances could've let the game get away, but retired the final three batters of the inning, two by strikeout, to keep the game level.
With the score even at 5, the Yankees started a rally with two outs in the seventh. Gregorius worked a walk against Matt Albers, and Girardi inserted Chase Headley as a pinch-hitter for Ronald Torreyes. Headley, who just recently notched his first extra base hit of the year, delivered another one, doubling home Gregorius for a 6-5 lead. It has been a rough year for Headley, who is now finally showing signs of life. With any luck, things have turned around for the downtrodden third baseman.
Andrew Miller continued to dominate in his new eighth inning role, setting down the White Sox in order. McCann stretched the lead to 7-5 with a solo shot, his fifth of the year, giving Aroldis Chapman some breathing room. Chapman had no issues in the ninth, retiring Chicago and giving the Yankees their second consecutive victory.
With the win, the Yankees closed a successful ten game homestand at 7-3. They won all three series they played during that span, and are now 16-20. Hopefully, the team's nadir is already in the rear-view mirror, and this recent run of quality play better signifies how things will look going forward. New York heads to Arizona to play the Diamondbacks tomorrow night, looking to keep these newly found good vibes going.