Earlier today, I wrote in the game thread that I hoped the Yankees would make this one a laugher. They did just that, as the bats overwhelmed the Detroit pitching staff. Home runs, situational hitting — you name it, the Bombers did it. Plus, Masahiro Tanaka made a rather strong return. This game had it all as the Yankees beat the Tigers by the score of 13 to 4.
The Yankees wasted little time in getting on the board. The Bombers jumped left-hander Matt Boyd for three runs in the first inning. After Aaron Hicks fought off a one-out single, Gary Sanchez launched a mammoth two-run home run. It was a pure moonshot, sailing 493 feet. That was his fifth home run in the last seven games, and his eighth total overall since August 3rd (number nine came later in the game). What makes that date special? To the time machine we go!
Babe Ruth, er I mean Gary Sanchez, hits his seventh home run of the season. You know, the one he began on August 3.— Mark Feinsand (@Feinsand) August 23, 2016
Sanchez is outpacing his 2016 streak, which is utterly ridiculous. The Yankees weren’t done though. Aaron Judge, the new number four hitter, worked a walk. He advanced to third on a Didi Gregorius double before scoring on a Tyler Austin sacrifice fly. Just like that the Yankees had a 3 - 0 lead.
Boyd never made it out of the third inning. Judge led off the frame with another walk before scoring on back-to-back singles by Gregorius and Austin. Boyd managed to retire Chase Headley, but then surrendered a two-RBI triple to Todd Frazier. That gave the Yankees a 6 - 0 lead, and forced Boyd from the game. The Tigers bullpen took over, but the Bombers never let up. Ronald Torreyes’ sacrifice fly off Warwick Saupold made it 7 - 0, Yankees.
The Bombers threatened again in the fourth, loading the bases, but came up empty against Saupold. They managed to get to him in the fifth inning, though. Frazier and Torreyes kicked things off by poking singles into left field. Torryes was quickly erased on a Brett Gardner fielder’s choice, and that’s when things got weird. Hicks hit into a fielder’s choice of his own but reached safely after Miguel Cabrera bobbled the ball. This allowed Frazier to score and set up Judge for a RBI single, making it a 9 - 1 game.
Drew VerHagen relieved Saupold with two outs in the fourth, and for a while he pitched well. He tossed two scoreless frames before the Yankees tagged him for a pair of runs in the seventh inning. Gardner legged out a triple to right field, but he ultimately didn’t need to turn the jets on. Hicks launched a two-run home run the very next at-bat, to put the Yankees up 11 - 1.
Meanwhile, Tanaka’s return to the mound went splendidly. He retired the first six batters he faced, working with an especially nasty splitter. He allowed a run in the third inning, off a booming double by Ian Kinsler. Tanaka shook it right off though and retired 10 of the next 11 batters he faced.
The only other damaged allowed came in the seventh inning. Brad Ausmus pinch hit John Hicks for Miguel Cabrera, who promptly launched a one-out double. That brought Nicholas Castellanos to plate who hit a two-run home run to right field. Tanaka was pretty surprised that ball carried out, and I agree. It was surprising, but ultimately proved inconsequential as the Yankees led 11 - 3.
Tanaka finished the night having allowed three runs on six hits over seven innings. He struck out four and walked none. He had all of his pitches working, and did a fine job of keeping them down in the zone.
It’s hard not to love what Tanaka did on there. He returned from the disabled list and tossed seven strong innings. He made two mistakes, but was otherwise lights out. I can’t say if this counts as vintage Tanaka, but at the very least it was one positive outing. Let’s see more of this moving forward, please.
As the game drew to a close, a pair of interesting home runs occurred. First, Sanchez struck his second bomb of the night. This time it went for two runs. The Kraken continues his ridiculous August. On the other hand, in the bottom of the ninth inning, Castellanos lined a Chasen Shreve fastball to center field. Jacoby Ellsbury completely whiffed it, and Castellanos legged out an inside the park home run. This game was already a laugher, so I’m willing to write that off for its entertainment value.
Game two of the series takes place tomorrow. First pitch is scheduled for 7:10 PM and will feature Luis Severino against Jordan Zimmermann.