The Yankees beat the Tampa Bay Rays, 9-0, on Saturday night at Tropicana Field in what was their best all around game of the season. Masahiro Tanaka pitched seven shutout innings in what was by far his best start of the season.
In Tanaka’s seven shutout innings he struck out eight batters and didn’t have any walks in only 85 pitches. He threw 58 of his pitches for strikes and only allowed two hits. In the bottom of the sixth inning, Tanaka allowed a leadoff double to Brandon Guyer but he was able to rebound to strikeout Rene Rivera and David DeJesus and then Steven Souza Jr grounded out to third.
After Tanaka allowed a single to leadoff the game he then retired 15 consecutive Rays, which included getting the dangerous Evan Longoria out two times. He has improved in each of his three starts this season as he allowed four earned runs in his first start, three in his second and then zero in this one. He looked like he did during his dominating rookie season.
“I think I was able to adjust well and get results,” Tanaka said. “The way that I was pitching the mechanics worked well. I am happy with the results. I liked my fastball in particular.” Joe Girardi thought that all of Tanaka’s pitches were working well and isn’t concerned about last year’s injury anymore.
The Bronx Bombers scored their most runs since they beat the Boston Red Sox 14-4 during Tanaka’s last start. It was a pitchers duel between Tanaka and Jake Odorizzi until the sixth inning when Brian McCann’s triple to deep right scored Brett Gardner and Alex Rodriguez. McCann’s drive came about a foot from being a homer and he had a triple since it hit an aluminum part of the wall and went nearly back to the infield.
Then, in the seventh inning, Gregorio Petit hit a sac fly to score Chase Headley, Brett Gardner singled to left to score Stephen Drew, Mark Teixeira hit a sac fly to right to score Jacoby Ellsbury and then Chris Young hit his third career grand slam to deep left to send Gardner, Rodriguez and McCann home.
Young’s homer essentially sealed the win for the Yankees at Tropicana Field. After getting three hits in four at-bats, Young is now hitting a solid .276 with an impressive three homers and eight RBIs. He deserves to play more in right field instead of Carlos Beltran since the soon to be 38-year-old is only hitting .184 with zero homers. Young has much more power in his bat, is more consistent right now and is just as reliable as Beltran in the outfield.
“You’re just trying to have a good at-bat,” Young said afterwards. “A grand slam is great, but it’s not what’s in your mind..I was just trying to grind, battle, trying to work a walk or base hit. And he happened to leave one up for me.”
The win ensured their first series win of the season and gives them a chance for their first sweep when Michael Pineda pitches against the Rays on Saturday afternoon. Pineda, how had a sub-par performance in his last start as he allowed five earned runs to the Baltimore Orioles, has the potential to form the best No. 1 and No. 2 combo with Tanaka in the AL East.
They are likely already the best number one and two starters in the division based on what they did last season. Pineda has greatly improved his change to go with his very good slider and fastball and in his first start he only allowed two earned runs in six innings to the Toronto Blue Jays. In his seven away games last season he had a 2.21 ERA and in his start at Tropicana Field he allowed a run in 5.1 innings.
The Yankees lost to the Rays on 6-1 on Tuesday for their fifth loss in their last six games. The Yankees have now only scored seven runs in their previous six games, which has been a major reason for all of the losses.
Tuesday’s game stands out because it was the fifth time that a Yankee had been hit in the last four games by the Rays. Joe Girardi was so frustrated that after Derek Jeter was hit on the wrist in the eighth he was thrown out of the game. “Five times in four games we have been hit,” Girardi said. “Twice in the elbow, once in the chin, a ball at Gardy’s head last night, another ball at Chase’s ribs last night. I am all for pitching inside, but you got to know how to pitch inside, because it is extremely dangerous. Chase Headley is lucky that he is OK. I don’t know what they expect.”
Jeter and Headley have both been hit twice since Sept. 9 and Brian McCann has been hit once. “No one likes to get hit,” Jeter said. Obviously when it happens it’s unfortunate; when it happens a lot, then yeah, people get frustrated.”
After Jeter was hit in the eighth both benches were warned, which led to umpire Rob Drake ejecting Girardi, Tony Pena and David Phelps from the game. Phelps was ejected when he sent a fastball near Kevin Kiermaier’s chin to the backstop in the eighth. Drake ruled this intentional even though Phelps was only making his second appearance since August 3. This also caused Pena to be ejected since he was the acting manager with Girardi out of the game.
The game was close through the sixth inning as the Rays only had a 2-1 lead at that point. Michael Pineda rebounded well from his last start since he only allowed one run in 5.1 innings. He was not able to give the team much length since he had 100 pitches when he was taken out. Pineda has now allowed two earned runs or less in nine of his 10 starts this season giving him an impressive 2.15 ERA.
The only run that the Yankees scored in the game came off of a single by Ichrio Suzuki that scored Chris Young in the second inning off of Jake Odorizzi. The Yankees had seven hits and two walks but were only 1-10 with runners in scoring position. Brett Gardner and Brian McCann, the three and four hitters counted on to drive in runs, were both 0-4 and McCann grounded into a double play with Jeter on first in the eighth. In the seventh inning, after Antoan Richardson stole second, Brendan Ryan and Jacoby Ellsbury both lined out to the outfield in consecutive at-bats.
The Yankees relief pitchers fell apart in the seventh inning as three pitchers combined to allow four runs on four hits. Three of those runs were charged to Esmil Rogers and the fourth was charged to Rich Hill. The Rays scored their first run of the seventh when the dangerous Evan Longoria hit a single that sent Ben Zobrist home and David DeJesus to second. DeJesus’s single to right advanced Zobrist to second. Hill gave up two consecutive singles to James Loney and Nick Franklin, which led to DeJesus scoring the second run of the inning.
A play that is barely ever seen happened with Wil Myers hitting and Phelps pitching. Myers hit a sac fly to center and Longoria scored from third and Loney scored from second. Part of the reason they both scored was that Ellsbury had to dive to make the catch. Girardi likely protested the game after this play.
In an almost fitting ending to the drama-filled game, Brendan Ryan struck out swinging with runners on first and second.
The only memorable part of the game besides Pineda’s performance was that Jeter was honored before the game with a ceremony. Jeter does not have a hit in his last 26 at-bats, but will likely remember and enjoy the kayak in Yankee colors with the No. 2 on it and a framed Rays jersey of Tampa Bay senior advisor Don Zimmer, who died last year. Jeter developed a clos relationship with Zimmer while he was the bench coach with the Yankees and would touch him for good luck.
In Jeter’s final game at Tropicana Field, on Wednesday, Alex Cobb will start for the Rays and Brandon McCarthy will pitch for the Yankees. McCarthy has allowed two runs or less in six of his last eight starts, and he allowed zero runs in three of those eight starts.
The Yankees snapped their two-game losing streak with a come from behind 8-5 win over the Tampa Bay Rays on Wednesday night. This win was their 35th win of the come from behind variety this season.
Chris Capuano allowed four runs in the first inning and was taken out of the game by Joe Girardi after only getting one out. Six out of the seven hitters he faced had either a hit or a walk, which included Logan Forsythe’s single that scored Wil Myers. Ryan Hanigan’s sacrifice fly that scored James Loney came with Chase Whitely pitching, but that run was charged to Capuano. He did not have his stuff on Wednesday, but the bullpen did because five pitchers combined to allow allow one run in 8.2 innings.
Dellin Betances pitched the last out of the seventh and the eighth inning and allowed one hit and struck out his 126th batter of the season. “We take a lot of pride,” Betances said. “We try to feed off of each other. It helps us out that we have a lot of guys out there.”
The offense did their part in this game as well. The Yankees were an improved 3-9 with runners in scoring position and two of their nine hits were home runs. Wednesday’s game was the second time that they had scored more than three runs in their last five games.
Brian McCann hit his 18th homer of the season in the bottom of the first to put the Yankees on the scoreboard. McCann drove in the team’s second and third runs in the third inning with his single that scored Chris Young and Jacoby Ellsbury. The Yankees tied the game at four in the fourth with Young’s first homer with the Yankees. Young had only one three-hit game in 88 games with the Mets this season. He had his first 3-hit game in his fifth game tonight with the Yankees.
In the past two games, Young is 4-7 (.571), with four RBIs, a homer and two runs scored. He was signed to a minor league contract on August 27, and after struggling with the Mets this season, his bat has come alive with the Yankees. “I’m just trying to hold my own,” Young said. “I am just trying to do my part.”
Mark Teixeira‘s unlikely triple in the fifth inning scored McCann to give the Yankees a 5-4 lead. Chase Headley, who was 2-3, hit a single off of relief pitcher Jeff Beliveau to drive in Teixeira. That run was the sixth charged to Rays started Jake Odorizzi.
The Yankees tacked on two insurance runs in the eighth inning with a run scoring double by Ichiro Suzuki and then a double to left by Young that scored Ichiro.
Evan Longoria smashed a homer off of Esmil Rogers in the ninth to make the score 8-5. Rogers would rebound to get Myers to pop out to Stephen Drew at second to end the game. The last time that the Yankees scored eight runs in a game was on August 27 when they beat the Detroit Tigers 8-4.
The Yankees have 19 games left in the regular season and are currently 4.5 games out of the second wild card spot, as a result of losses by both the Mariners and Tigers. The Yankees will likely have to win 15 or more games the rest of the season to have a chance.