One night after perhaps the worst loss of the season, the New York Yankees rebounded and evened up the series with a 4-0 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays. Masahiro Tanaka tossed a complete game shutout, and the bats did just enough to finish the job. The win also snapped a five-game losing streak versus the Rays.
The Yankees started off strong in the first inning, as Brett Gardner and Aaron Judge smoked singles into left field. They advanced on a wild pitch, and Gardner raced home on a Didi Gregorius ground out for the first run. It was effective small ball at its finest, and after all that the Yankees went through in Monday’s loss, it was encouraging to strike first.
Tanaka toed the mound for the Yankees, and he had everything working from the start. He had pinpoint control, needing just 42 pitches for his first four perfect innings. He struck out seven of the first eleven batters he faced, and did it by using all three of his pitches. Tanaka looked like every bit the ace on Tuesday night.
Yonny Chirinos started for the Rays and pitched well. The Rays’ number 20 prospect threw a lot of strikes and looked like he belonged in the big leagues. He settled down after the early run, and only allowed one hit over his next three scoreless frames.
The Yankees got another run across in the fifth through more National League-style offense. With one out, Chirinos hit Brandon Drury on the wrist with a pitch, who was then removed from the game for Tyler Wade. After Neil Walker singled him over to third base on a hit-and-run, the Yankees had runners on the corners with just one out. Aaron Boone signaled for the hit-and-run again, and while Austin Romine grounded out, Walker’s hustle ensured that the grounder wouldn’t be an inning-ending double play. Meanwhile, Wade scored, doubling the Yankees’ lead to 2-0.
C.J. Cron finally got the first hit of the day for the Rays in the fifth inning, and Ji-Man Choi followed with a walk. Tanaka recovered though, striking out Daniel Robertson and fielding his position with aplomb on a nicely-turned inning-ending 3-6-1 double play. The Yankees need their veteran pitchers to step up, and Tanaka absolutely delivered on Tuesday night.
Chirinos stuck around until the seventh inning — a true rarity for Rays starters — but it cost him. Miguel Andujar ripped a base hit to lead off the inning and Bird blooped a double off of the catwalks to put two runners in scoring position with no one out. Although Chirinos got Wade to strike out, he intentionally walked Walker to load the bases for Romine with one out. Romine did his job though, lifting a sacrifice fly into right field that plated Andujar as the Yankees’ third run. Later on in the ninth, Andujar stroked a double and scored on a Walker single, providing even more cushion.
Tanaka wouldn’t need any room though to get his eighth win of the season. His pitch count was in great shape all night, and the only question was how deep into the game Boone would let Tanaka go. In the end, Tanaka came out for the ninth inning, and notched his sixth career complete game and third career shutout. He allowed just three hits and one walk, and struck out nine Rays on the night. It was easily his best performance of the season.
The Yankees will go for the series victory tomorrow afternoon against the Rays. Luis Cessa will start for the Yankees, he’ll be opposed by former Yankee and current trade deadline target Nathan Eovaldi.