There are two competing narratives surrounding tonight’s 4-1 win over the Mets, and I’ll address both of them. First, I hate the NL and its stupid rules forcing pitchers to hit. Expecting pitchers, who focus all their energy on pitching, to be competent hitters and baserunners is dumb. Tonight was just more evidence of that, as Masahiro Tanaka withdrew from a fantastic start due to a hamstring injury after five innings.
The other narrative is the blazing hot stretch both Brett Gardner and Giancarlo Stanton are on. Gardner hit what turned out to be the game-winning home run in the eighth, while Stanton added some insurance in the ninth. While both players got off to slow starts and felt the derision of their fans, since May 1st Stanton and Gardner own a 143 and 142 wRC+, respectively.
Gardy’s home run, reminiscent of his clutch bomb last year against the Cubs, was a thing of beauty:
Brett Gardner gives the @Yankees a 3-1 lead on this homer to right field. #MLBNShowcase pic.twitter.com/yRUEij8YjG— MLB Network (@MLBNetwork) June 9, 2018
Getting back to the Tanaka story. Masa was...well, brilliant tonight. He gave up a leadoff home run to Brandon Nimmo, and I’m sure a lot of Yankee fans were cringing at what the rest of his start would look like after the leadoff hitter teed off so effectively. After the home run, Tanaka was perfect. He worked five full innings, struck out eight and allowed just a single other baserunner, who was immediately erased on a double play. Tanaka was in full control...until the stupid NL rules came back to bite him.
After reaching on an error, and moving from station to station on a hit and a walk, Tanaka was on third with the bases loaded and Aaron Judge at the plate.
⚾️ #MLB | Masahiro Tanaka anotando en pisa y corre con elevado de Aaron Judge pic.twitter.com/I93YsG7jZp— Carlos Morales (@C_MoralesD) June 9, 2018
It’s subtle, but Tanaka definitely appears to pull up a little lame just before crossing the plate. He didn’t face another batter and was removed with tightness in both hamstrings. Should a DL stint be necessary, it would be another hit to a beleaguered Yankee rotation, and yet another reason why the NL should just adopt the DH already.
After Tanaka’s unfortunate exit, the Yankee bullpen went to work, and did exactly what they do so well. Jonathan Holder, Chad Green, Dellin Betances and Aroldis Chapman combined for four innings, three hits, no walks and three strikeouts, sealing the Yankees’ third straight win.
The better New York team can secure yet another series win tomorrow, with Domingo German slated to start a night game against Steven Matz. That matchup begins at 7:15pm EDT, and it’s the Fox primetime game.