It’s so nice when your baseball team scores. After an anemic offensive display in Friday’s loss, the Yankees roared back with a couple big home runs and a lot of loud contact. Meanwhile Masahiro Tanaka did his part to quiet the Red Sox, handing the Yankees their second win of the series, 5-1.
Any concerns we may have had about Tanaka in 2017 are quickly disappearing in the rear view mirror. Our most adorable starter was dynamic today, throwing seven innings of one-run ball, surrendering just five hits. He pounded the lower third of the zone with his splitter and sinker, and Tanaka’s always at his strongest when those pitches can be called for strikes. He established the bottom of the zone early, and worked it all game, inducing 11 ground ball outs.
David Robertson and Dellin Betances handled the remaining two innings, fanning four over their combined two innings of work. Dellin was particularly destructive, striking out the side on just 12 pitches.
Offensively, five runs were great but the Yankees certainly could have had more. Drew Pomeranz left almost everything over the plate, and I lost count how many at-bats ended with blistering contact finding a fielder’s glove. In the second inning, Chase Headley laced a liner into the left field seats to put the Yankees up 1-0, and the team loaded the bases promptly thereafter. Aaron Hicks hammered a ball at more than 108 mph, that Tzu-Wei Lin somehow got himself in front of and converted to an out.
Gary Sanchez also had a 100 mph+ line drive that Jackie Bradley Jr. tracked down in center field. The ball had a 76% hit probability according to StatCast, but that’s what happens when you send fly balls toward the Sox outfield.
The Red Sox tied it up in the top of the sixth, and it looked like the Yankee offense might struggle to punch through again today. All that changed when Matt Holliday, in his first game back since early August, stepped to the plate:
You should note that this is the first game in 2017 Holliday has worn two batting gloves. If that’s the secret, he better keep both hands wrapped all September.
The Yankees weren’t looking back from then on. Jacoby Ellsbury led off the seventh with a triple, and Gary Sanchez promptly cashed him in with an infield single to make it 5-1. Tanaka and the bullpen handled the game from there.
There was one real concern in this game: the loss of Aaron Hicks. The outfielder was pulled in favor of Ellsbury, and later diagnosed with an oblique strain. It’s the same injury that put Hicks on the disabled list earlier this season, and it might result in the talented Yankee being shut down for the rest of 2017.
The series finale, and final game against Boston in the regular season, goes tomorrow afternoon. It’ll be a classic ace-off, as Luis Severino will square off against Chris Sale, with first pitch at 7:35 pm.