It’s been awhile since the Yankees simply won a rubber game. Per Katie Sharp on Twitter, New York dropped each of their last 11 chances to win a three-game series in the final game. That streak is no more as the Yankees had little trouble taking the series today from Seattle, thanks to another big performance from Masahiro Tanaka and a heaping of defensive incompetence from the M’s.
Tanaka quickly found himself in trouble, though, and it looked as if another Tanaka day-game stinker could be on the cards. Yonder Alonso and Robinson Cano both singled, and Nelson Cruz doubled home a run to make it 1-0.
The deficit was short-lived as the Mariners put on a nightmarish display of defense in the bottom of the first. Starlin Castro doubled off starter Andrew Albers with one out, and scored when Gary Sanchez singled and advanced to second as Definitely Not An Embedded Yankee Ben Gamel let the ball roll past him in left. Aaron Judge walked, and Didi Gregorius reached when shortstop Jean Segura couldn’t corral a soft flare, loading the bases.
The comedy of errors continued as Chase Headley grounded to third, where Kyle Seager booted the ball and allowed a run to score. Jacoby Ellsbury continued his strong recent play by doubling to left, driving home three and advancing to third on two more errors by Segura, totaling five in the inning for Seattle. Seriously, this is how a major league team looked in the middle of a baseball play:
or, I guess, many thanks to embedded Yankee "the Mariners" pic.twitter.com/1Rtclka133— Pinstripe Alley (@pinstripealley) August 27, 2017
Adding insult to injury, Ronald Torreyes brought home Ellsbury on an infield single. The Yankees struck the ball hard maybe twice in the inning, but batted around and plated six runs thanks to a stunningly sloppy showing by the Mariners. It was easy to invoke the idea that the Mariners were tired after staying up late to watch the Floyd Mayweather/Conor McGregor bout, but the better parallel to the fight might have been that Seattle looked like a team making its debut in a sport it had never professionally competed in before.
Lest the game settle into the dull rhythm of a blowout, Joe Girardi made sure things stayed lively by getting himself ejected in the third. Girardi challenged that Segura had left the baseline in attempting to disrupt a potential double play, and was apoplectic when the review team in Manhattan declined to overturn the call. Girardi certainly had a point that the umpires on the ground should have seen Segura take a sharp turn into the infield grass.
The Yankees tacked onto their lead in the bottom of the third, with Torreyes, Aaron Hicks, and Castro each notching singles to make it 7-1. It was tough luck for Albers, who was asked to wear it today and was the victim of poor defense and bad luck on a few softly hit batted balls.
Meanwhile, Tanaka cruised for the most part after allowing an early run. Brief DL stint aside, Tanaka has been very effective of late, maintaining an ERA near three over his previous 10 starts, and he was able to continue that success today.
He finished with seven strong innings of work, yielding a lone run. For the most part Tanaka scattered the six hits the Mariners managed, and struck out 10 compared to a single walk, lowering his ERA to 4.69 on the season. He touched 96 mph on his fastball and had the Mariners flailing at times at his splitter. It was a good Tanaka start.
His counterpart, Albers, racked up an interesting line: five innings, 11 hits, eight runs, just three earned. He hung in there gamely given the circumstances, soaking up as many innings as possible for a Mariners rotation that has been wracked by injury this year.
Albers was chased in the sixth when Castro led off with his fourth hit of the game and Sanchez walked. Dan Altavilla came on in relief and promptly walked Judge to load the bases with none out. Headley managed a sac fly to bring the score to 8-1.
The hits kept coming in the seventh, as Todd Frazier walked, Ellsbury singled, and Torreyes brought his average above .300 with a single. With the bases loaded and one out, Greg Bird came on for a pinch-hit two-run single, his first runs driven in since April 26th. A welcome sight:
Caleb Smith relieved Tanaka and brought things home comfortably over the last two innings, with the score finishing at 10-1.
Everything just came up New York today, with the Mariners bumbling in the field and seemingly every flare into the outfield finding grass for a Yankee base-hit. Tanaka shoved, every starter reached base at least once, and Bird got back in on the fun. They finished the game at least four games clear in the AL Wild Card race, and at worst 3.5 games back of the Red Sox in the AL East. At 70-59, the Yankees are still in solid position, and will look to keep cutting into Boston’s division lead as they start a series with Cleveland in the Bronx tomorrow night.