MLB’s best offense had a little bit of everything on Monday night against a hapless Cincinnati Reds staff. A couple singles with runners in scoring position, sacrifice flies, three batters hit by pitches in the same inning and a couple of long home runs added up to another double digit runs night for the Yankees, their sixth of the season.
New York feasted on former Yankee prospect Rookie Davis early, loading the bases in the first inning and taking a 3-0 lead on RBI singles by Gary Sanchez and Didi Gregorius. Baseball’s Tommy Douglas, Joey Votto, narrowed the gap with an RBI single of his own in the bottom half, but Masahiro Tanaka was able to limit the damage from there, for the moment anyway. An Aaron Hicks single in the top of the second gave the Yankees their three-run lead back.
The offense kept rolling in the top of the fifth. Sanchez continued his selfless refusal to homer with a single to load the bases, and Didi knocked a fly ball to left field to drive in Matt Holliday. Chase Headley followed up with a scorcher to right that probably deserved to be a hit, but didn’t drop in.
Of course, being Chase Headley, he wore out my goodwill in the bottom half. An error on a ball that should have been made into an out led to runners on the corners, and an Adam Duvall single made the game 5-2. I thought Tanaka looked frustrated with his teammate after the run scored, which is something I don’t think I’ve ever seen from him before.
Speaking of Tanaka, our ace was enigmatic tonight. His final line looks okay, 7 IP, 4 R (3 earned), a walk and six strikeouts. He certainly got no help from his defense. Votto’s two run home run in the bottom of the seventh, Tanaka’s second last batter, is the kind of thing that just sometimes happens facing good hitters. Having said all that, I felt like he was in trouble, or close to it and laboring, all night. He could work out of it for the most part, rather brilliantly at times, like the bottom of the fourth. With the bases loaded and nobody out, Tanaka induced an infield fly and a Tucker Barnhart double play to escape trouble, and gave us all a bit of a celebratory fist pump coming off the mound.
Back to the offense, the top of the seventh saw Drew Storen, a man I didn’t know was still in baseball, hit Hicks, Sanchez and Headley with pitches. The Headley HBP came with the bases loaded and scored a run, but more to the point, I was stunned a pitcher could continue after hitting players that way. There was no intent, Storen just had absolutely no control, but in my opinion that’s more dangerous than a pitcher intentionally throwing at a batter. Storen had no idea where the ball was going to go once he released it, and we were all lucky that the Yankees hitters seemed to avoid any serious problems.
Brett Gardner, meanwhile, continues to wear out National League pitching, hitting a two-run home run as an eighth inning insurance policy. Matt Holliday added a solo shot to make the game 10-4. Home runs are good, and we should always want more.
Tyler Clippard, after his heroic work last night (this morning?) pitched a clean bottom of the eighth. Sample sizes are always a problem with relievers but he seems to be overcoming his early season problems and has settled down really nicely.
Tommy Layne pitched the ninth and the game ended on a terrific double play, 6-3 from Didi to Austin Romine (a late game pinch hitter and defensive replacement) to retire Billy Hamilton, a feat in and of itself. It seemed fitting that in a game full of poor Yankee defense, the final play was a sparkling one.
Another day, another fun, safe WPA chart. Sanchez led the way for the first time this season, with a .224. Hicks and Tanaka get nods for posting .130 and .123 respectively. I’m not going to count Tanaka’s negative WPA as a batter against him.
The Yankees have their sixth straight win, a +58 run differential, and got the length from their starter they needed. Lots went right today, and hopefully will carry over tomorrow. CC Sabathia gets the start at 7:10 EDT on FS1.