The Yankees finished off their series against the Mariners on Wednesday afternoon with a 3-1 win, and that victory finished off a three-game sweep by the Yankees in Seattle. It was their first three-game winning streak on the road since beating the Red Sox from May 1 to May 3.
Joe Girardi’s team has rebounded from their slump in the middle of May to win seven of their last 10 games. They have received dominating starts from Masahiro Tanaka, Nathan Eovaldi, CC Sabathia and two each Michael Pineda and Adam Warren. This hot streak comes after the Yankees lost 10 of their previous 11 games.
During Wednesday’s win, Tanaka made his first start since April 23 as a result of being on the disabled list due to wrist and forearm issues. His line of seven innings, one earned run, nine strikeouts and only three hits was better than anyone could have expected.
He was on a pitch limit of 80, and he was remarkably able to get through seven innings with 78 pitches. He allowed three hits and zero walks, which led to an outstanding 0.43 WHIP for the game.
All three hits that Tanaka allowed came in the third inning, but after those three hits, he retired the final 13 batters that he faced. Tanaka was able to throw in the mid-90s many times in his first start back (with a high of 96), which proves that he has recovered from what put him on the disabled list. He had also not thrown in the mid-90s earlier this season.
Tanaka’s explanation for finally reaching the mid 90s: “I think maybe (because) we’re a little bit deeper in the season. Warming up a little, maybe that has to do with it.”
“I’m not so sure I expected (that velocity) the first time out,” Girardi said. “Velocity has been a huge topic for him. We talked about his average velocity has been there. In April, a lot of times you don’t see guys’ (full) velocity. You just don’t. Part of it has to do with that stinky weather that we play in, but I was a little surprised.”
Tanaka had a solid 3.22 ERA in four starts before going on the disabled list, but his start on Wednesday brought his ERA down to an impressive 2.76 and his WHIP is now all the way down to 0.82. If he can continue throwing in the mid-90s it will make the rest of his pitches even more effective than they were when he was throwing in the low-90s.
Two different homers gave the Yankees enough runs to get Tanaka his third win of the season. Mark Teixeira hit his 16th homer of the season in the second inning and then Garrett Jones hit a homer in the fourth inning that drove in Alex Rodriguez to give the Yankees a 3-1 lead. It was Jones’s third homer of the season and second in as many days.
Jones will get the start in right field again tonight as Carlos Beltran will miss another game with a sore foot. He has really found his swing recently since in the last nine games he has appeared in, he has 10 hits in his last 22 at-bats (.455) with three homers, eight RBIs and five runs scored. His average was .150 on May 20 and it is now a very respectable .258.
Teixeira is second in the American League in homers and first in the AL with his 41 RBIs. He should be able to easily surpass last season’s numbers as he finished with 22 homers and 62 RBIs in 123 games.
After their off day on Thursday after flying cross country from Seattle, the Yankees will now start a three-game series against the Los Angeles Angels at Yankee Stadium. Pineda has had his previously scheduled for Saturday skipped because his innings are piling up. His next start will be on June 12 against the Baltimore Orioles.
The Yankees have a half game lead over the Tampa Bay Rays after their sweep of the Mariners. The Rays have also won three games in a row. Here are the pitching matchups for this series against the Angels (28-26), who are in second place in the AL West:
RHP Nathan Eovaldi (4-1, 4.40)
RHP Jered Weaver (4-4, 4.08)
7:05 p.m., YES Network
RHP Adam Warren (3-4, 3.75)
RHP Garrett Richards (5-3, 3.26)
7:15 p.m., FOX
RHP Michael Pineda (7-2, 3.33)
LHP C.J. Wilson (3-4, 3.55)
1:05 p.m., YES Network
Garrett Jones is a player that the Yankees acquired in the trade that also brought them starter Nate Eovaldi, who will likely be the No. 4 starter, but Jones will also be an important player this season for the Bronx Bombers.
Last season with the Miami Marlins, he hit .246 with 15 homers, 53 RBIs and a .411 SLG%. His best season came in 2012 during his fourth season with the Pittsburgh Pirates when he had a .274 average with 27 homers, 86 RBIs, a .516 SLG% and 245 total bases. When playing in more than 100 games, those numbers either set career-highs or tied his career-high. The 33-year-old has hit 15 or more homers in every season since 2009 and has hit 21 or more homers in three of those seasons.
He plays right field, first base and can obviously DH. The Yankees will be in much better shape this season if Mark Teixeira has a injury or needs a day off because Jones is a legitimate first baseman as he made 122 starts at first in 2014. Last season, as a result of Teixeira playing in 123 games and the team not having a back-up first baseman, Joe Girardi was forced to play Chase Headley, Carlos Beltran and Francisco Cervelli at the position. None of those players had played first base in their career.
He will also be a back-up right fielder. The starters in the outfield will be Brett Gardner, Jacoby Ellsbury and Beltran. The Yankees need Beltran to stay healthy, but Jones’s versatility in the outfield will be valuable as well because the 37-year-old Beltran will need many days off and could have some minor injuries as a result of his age and offseason surgery. Jones started 25 games in right in 2013 and started 58 games in right in 2012 with only five errors combined, which proves that he can be relied on when Beltran is not in the lineup.
Jones will also be used as the designated hitter on days when Alex Rodriguez is not the DH. It could make sense it A-Rod and Jones platoon at DH because Jones is a lefty and could excel at Yankee Stadium with the short porch in right, and A-Rod likely is not ready for full-time DH duty after missing all of last season and previously having surgery on both of his hips.
During Thursday’s spring training game against the Pittsburgh Pirates, Jones hit an RBI double to help the Yankees get a 2-1 win. Stats and wins don’t really matter this early in the exhibition season, but it is a good sign that Jones was able to get an extra-base hit on March 5.
If the Yankees can get about 20 homers out of Jones and 15 homers from Rodriguez then they both would have had very productive seasons. Jones really gives the Yankees a player that they were missing last season because he has power and the ability to play multiple positions. It will be key for him to have a fast transition to playing with the Yankees because they really don’t know what they will get from A-Rod this season.