Masahiro Tanaka wasn't his best Friday night, especially against a team that he should be able to keep in check. Fortunately, the offense and bullpen were up to the task of picking up the Yankee ace on their way to a win in the series opener against the Twins.
The game went back and forth with the Twins taking an early 2-0 lead before the Yankees tied it up. Minnesota was able to pull back ahead briefly before the Yankees took the lead for good. Tanaka allowed seven hits and three runs across his six innings of work. A quality start, if you buy into that metric, but not his sharpest start by any means. Eduardo Nunez drove in Byron Buxton and Kurt Suzuki with a single in the third inning that gave the Twins their first lead. Buxton drove in the Twins' final run on a groundout in the fourth that gave them a 3-2 lead.
New York didn't allow the Twins pitchers any shutdown innings. After the Twins took the first lead of the game, the Yankees immediately followed with a Carlos Beltran RBI double that scored Brett Gardner and an Alex Rodriguez RBI single that plated Beltran to tie the game in the third inning.
Austin Romine got a sac fly to tie the game again after Minnesota briefly took a 3-2 lead an inning later. Rob Refsnyder singled home Didi Gregorius to give the Yankees the lead for good, and Aaron Hicks added a little insurance with a solo home run in the eighth inning against his former team.
Interestingly enough, only one of the four runs Twins starter Tommy Milone allowed was earned. Eduardo Escobar booted a ball, Robbie Grossman committed a throwing error in the outfield, and Joe Mauer botched a grounder to give the Twins as many errors as runs scored in the game. Nice to see the Yankees actually taking advantage of that.
The bullpen, as it usually is when Joe Girardi can go straight to the three-headed monster, was perfect. Dellin Betances, Andrew Miller, and Aroldis Chapman each worked a clean inning and struck out at least one batter. Having three dependable guys to turn to instead of middle relief, which has been shaky all season, has been incredibly valuable to say the least.
Michael Pineda will try to keep it going tomorrow against Ervin Santana at 1 pm. These are games that the Yankees definitely need to win if they want to even pretend that they might be in contention for a postseason spot, so Pineda is going to need to be better than he has been tomorrow. Hopefully he's able to do that.