After a successful weekend in Baltimore, the Yankees returned home looking to extend what’s been a strong run. They’ve been playing bad teams, but the Bombers have taken advantage, and had a chance to continue their streak against another lowly opponent. Instead, they looked sloppy in support of Masahiro Tanaka, and kicked away a winnable game against the White Sox.
The Yankees could only put together vague threats against starter Carlos Rodon in the early innings. Gleyber Torres walked and stole second in the second inning, but was stranded there. Ronald Torreyes tripled to lead off the third, only to be cut down trying to score on a groundball from Aaron Hicks.
Tanaka ran into major trouble in the fourth. Tim Anderson doubled to lead off, and Avisail Garcia reached on an infield single to third when Miguel Andujar wasn’t quick enough in getting the ball across the diamond. In the previous inning, Adam Engel also singled on a groundball to Andujar, but Andujar was bailed out when Kyle Higashioka erased Engel attempting to steal.
After the latest episode of Andujar’s defensive struggles, Tanaka hit Daniel Palka to load the bases with none out. From there, Tanaka dug deep. He fanned Matt Davidson on a sharp slider out of the zone, then got Omar Narvaez fishing on a slider in the dirt. Tanaka ended the inning by inducing a groundout from Yoan Moncada, with the ball actually bouncing off the mound past Tanaka into the waiting hands of Torres.
Torres opened up the scoring in the bottom of the inning. Andujar walked to lead off, and Torres sent an absolute shot out over the center field wall for a 2-0 lead. Great news for Torres, who appears to finally be heating up after a prolonged slump after coming off the disabled list.
Tanaka found himself in more trouble in the sixth, but this time, he couldn’t fight his way out. First, he was victimized by poor fortune, with weak contact leading to base hits. Palka reached on an infield single, Davidson walked, and Narvaez also reached on an infield hit to load the bases with one out.
Moncada then smacked Chicago’s first hard-hit ball of the inning, tying the game with a two-run double, and Nicky Delmonico gave the White Sox the lead with a sac fly. Things could have gotten out of hand, but Shane Robinson made an outstanding diving catch on a sinking liner off the bat of Engel to end the inning.
Robinson quickly gave back any good will he engendered, however. Tanaka came back out to start the seventh and allowed a single to Yolmer Sanchez, one that Robinson let get by him, allowing Sanchez to advance. Sanchez scored on a double from Anderson for a 4-2 lead.
Tanaka limited the damage there, but it was still an unsatisfying end to his night. The escape in the fourth inning was dramatic, and he struck out seven compared to one walk. He just fell victim to bad BABIP luck, not to mention some lackluster defense. The White Sox scraped together ten hits overall and four runs to blemish Tanaka’s outing.
The Yankees tried to pick up Tanaka right away in the seventh, but Rodon wriggled away to complete his start. Torres and Neil Walker walked to put two on with none out. Higashioka proceeded to pop out, and Torreyes grounded into a double play to end the inning. Rodon finished up with a strong line, seven innings and just two hits and two runs, contrasted against four walks and two strikeouts.
Tommy Kahnle came on and navigated a scoreless eighth for one of his better outings in the majors this season, but A.J. Cole scuffled through the ninth. Engel singled to lead off, took second on an errant pickoff throw from Cole, and scored on an error by Luke Voit. Anderson reached on the error, stole third, and scored on a wild pitch. It was an ugly sequence, to say the least. Aaron Boone’s decision to turn to the struggling Cole in a close game will likely be questioned.
The Yankees didn’t threaten in the games latter stages, falling disappointingly 6-2. Their four-game winning streak was extinguished, and they lost ground on the Red Sox, who were off tonight. Their newly-renewed hopes of coming back in the division are far from lost, but every game counts, and the margins are narrow. The Yankees cannot afford to drop many more games against inferior teams if they want a chance to avoid the wild card game. They’ll look to start a new winning streak tomorrow night with Lance Lynn on the mound.