The Yankees lost to the Red Sox this afternoon. Under normal circumstances, losing 5 — 0 to Boston would make for an irritating time. That’s not the case today, though, because it’s still spring training. In fact, a few bright spots emerged from the game, notably the performance by Masahiro Tanaka and the lineup construction.
It’s silly to obsess over spring training stats, especially for a pitcher. That said, Tanaka needed a strong outing in the worst way. He got hammered in each of his three previous starts. Heading into this afternoon’s game, he allowed 10 earned runs across eight innings. Batters seemed to square up everything he pitched.
Today, however, the right-hander looked sharp. He tossed 5.2 innings of one-run ball, striking out six. Tanaka got right down to business, too, having retired the first six batters he faced. That included a pair of strikeouts.
The only blemish on Tanaka’s record came in the third inning. Ivan De Jesus Jr. led off with a solo home run. The Red Sox second baseman got into a fastball that floated right over the center of the plate. That was the fifth home run allowed by Tanaka this spring, which is troubling. The home run ball has always haunted him, but considering this lineup’s propensity to outscore any opponent, I can live with the occasional homer.
I know what you’re thinking. “Isn’t it funny to say this club can outscore any other team after they just got shutout?” Well, yes, that’s not exactly the best timing. The results, however, take the backseat here. The organization of the lineup stands out as the main feature.
Aaron Boone opted for a bold approach, batting Aaron Judge leadoff and Giancarlo Stanton second. Greg Bird hit third while Gary Sanchez cleaned up. Sure, they couldn’t cash in a run today, but stringing those bats together is a brilliant idea, especially at the top of the lineup. Of course you probably don’t want Judge in the leadoff spot, but he has to come to the plate in the first inning. The same goes for Stanton.
Imagine what would go through the opposing pitcher’s mind as he takes the mound.
“It’s a beautiful day for baseball! I hope the Yankees are ready for me today.”
“Alright, I lost a 12-pitch at-bat to Brett Gardner, but I can recover. I’ll just get a quick out against the next batter. Oh no. Not Judge.”
“Okay, settle down, two-run homers won’t kill you. Who’s next? Oh come on?! Stanton’s a Yankee now?”
“Down 3 - 0, no outs yet. This has to be the easy part of the lineup. Sanchez, Bird, Didi Gregorius? Ughh.”
“That does it. I’m going home.”
Just about every pitcher in the league will have to deal with that, and in games that matter! Opening Day is on the horizon, and this lineup will soon make starters question their career decisions. It’s