Don’t let the 11-5 final score fool you. This solid victory for the Yankees was both a harsh beatdown of a scuffling team, and almost too close for comfort in the span of a few innings. The bats delivered a massive lead early on, Masahiro Tanaka carved his way through until he fell off a cliff, and the Yankees settled down to finish the job.
The Yankees were tasked with taking advantage of one of the worst starting pitchers in the league, and they were happy to oblige. Antonio Senzatela has had a rough 2019, and it didn’t get any easier after the Yankees chased him from the game in the second inning. His outing started off on the wrong foot, allowing a leadoff single to DJ LeMahieu and a booming double to Aaron Judge, but he managed to escape further damage there.
Senzatela wouldn’t get so fortunate in the second. Didi Gregorius greeted him with a leadoff double, and Gleyber Torres punched a single through that scored him (and advanced himself to second on some heads-up baserunning forcing a throwing error). Austin Romine slapped a single to bring home a third run, and Senzatela loaded the bases on walks before Aaron Hicks fought off a pitch into right field for the fourth run of the game. Edwin Encarnacion ended the starter’s day with a double down the line in left, scoring two.
While the Yankee bats went to work, Masahiro Tanaka kept sending them back to the plate by working an incredibly efficient first five innings. Tanaka induced a ton of soft contact, particularly groundballs to first base, that kept his pitch count down and the Rockies fielders standing in the sun. Tanaka allowed just a single baserunner through that stretch, a single in the fourth to Trevor Story, and was arguably on his way to the best performance from a Yankee pitcher this season.
Unfortunately, then the sixth inning hit. Tanaka got the first out of the inning by getting Tony Wolters to groundout to first, and then the top of the Rockies order mashed everything Tanaka had to offer. Charlie Blackmon started the rally with a single, and Story laced a double over the glove of Gio Urshela into the left field corner, bringing home the first run for Colorado. Nolan Arenado delivered the big blast, a three-run home run into Monument Park. Two batters later Ian Desmond slapped a single through to put the final run through.
Tanaka settled down enough to end the inning, but the effort would be his last of the afternoon. Tommy Kahnle and David Hale took the remaining three innings and held the Rockies in check. Neither pitcher allowed a baserunner, holding the Colorado lineup to just the one explosive outburst.
New York stymied the comeback attempt, but they still built their lead back up in the seventh. Brett Gardner led off with a walk, and advanced to third on a single from LeMahieu. Mike Tauchman bounced a ball over to short that created an out but allowed Gardner to score. Then, with two outs, Encarnacion found a fortunate fly-ball single into the outfield that allowed Tauchman to score from first.
The Yankees secured another series victory at home with the win, their 14th in 15 tries. Their continued winning puts more pressure on their division rivals, who could give the Yankees a double-digit lead in the standings with losses later tonight.