Masahiro Tanaka is the story of practically every game he pitches and tonight's 11-strikeout complete game was no exception. The Yankees' ace finished the game on 109 pitches with the only blemishes on his night coming in the final frame when he allowed a two-run home run to Robinson Cano. The Japanese right-hander allowed six hits and one walk in the game, but he was dominant all night, surpassing the 100-strikeout mark on the season and keeping his ERA at an American League-low of 2.02. Tanaka didn't allow a Mariner to reach base until James Jones singled to right in the fourth inning.
The big hit for the Yankees came off the bat of Mark Teixeira in the form of a three-run home run in the fifth inning that put them up 4-0. Brett Gardner and Jacoby Ellsbury singled and came around to score on the dinger. Gardner reached base three times via two singles and a walk while Ellsbury extended his hit streak to 15 games with an RBI single that plated the first run of the game. Ellsbury singled and walked to finish his night, but he should have had an additional hit that the first base umpire incorrectly ruled foul. Replay does not allow challenges on fair/foul rulings, so the call had to stand as it was originally called.
Derek Jeter came up with two hits and, more impressively, two stolen bases. The Yankee Captain hasn't swiped two bags in a game since 2009. Ichiro Suzuki, Brian McCann, and Brian Roberts also got in on the hitting with each notching a single in the game. Carlos Beltran had another uninspiring game at the plate, going 0-4 and leaving six men on base. Yangervis Solarte was the only other Yankee without a hit.
Even though Roberts was able to pick up a hit tonight, he also cost the Yankees and Tanaka a run when he booted a routine groundball in the ninth inning before the Cano homer. With Jose Pirela and Rob Refsnyder tearing the cover off the ball in the minors, the Yankees' tolerance for how bad Roberts has been should be quite low. Better alternatives exist and botching routine plays in the field, of which this is far from the first occasion, should draw Roberts a little closer to the unemployment line. Veteran presence aside, it seems like there is very little that Roberts can do that couldn't be duplicated or exceeded by Pirela or Refsnyder in the very near future. His mistake didn't cost the Yankees the game tonight, but they may not be so fortunate in the future. He isn't hitting well enough to justify keeping him at this point. Hopefully the Yankees realize that and make a move sooner or later. The middle infield could really use some improvement.
Tomorrow night wraps up the Yankees' series in Seattle when Chase Whitley squares off with Roenis Elias at 10:10 pm EDT. The team could use a series victory before heading into Oakland to take on the Athletics this weekend.