Masahiro Tanaka bounced back very well from his first loss of the season as he only allowed one earned run on five hits in 6.2 innings pitched in the 7-1 Yankees win in the series finale against the Chicago White Sox. Tanaka’s effective splitter and slider helped him strike out six and earn his seventh win of the season.
Tanaka was aware that he had to make some adjustments to improve on his last start. “I wanted the ball to go down, that is why I made some tweaks to my mechanics,” Tanaka said.
The Yankees split their six games in the Windy City. They had to win their previous two games to do so, and they broke their streak of winning their previous three games by only one run. It was a good sign that the offense produced 10 hits and that Tanaka was able to go deep in the game once again to give the bullpen a break.
Tanaka has now pitched at least six innings in every start this season and every start has been a quality start (six innings and three runs or less). He has struck out at least five batters in every start and has struck out at least seven hitters in eight of his 10 starts. He has an outstanding ratio of 79 strikeouts to only 10 walks in his rookie season.
The Yankees scored seven runs even though their 3-5 hitters went a combined 0-11 in the game. They got contributions offensively from everyone else as Brett Gardner, Derek Jeter, Jacoby Ellsbury and Brian Roberts all drove in runs and six different players scored runs. The wind appeared to help Roberts hit his second homer of the season in the eighth, and Alfonso Soriano had his first multi-hit game (2) since May 17, but the offensive star of the game was Jeter.
The Captain had four hits in five at-bats in his final game at U.S. Cellular Field. He had three singles and his first triple of the season. His four hits raised his average from .259 to .275. Jeter hit his stand up triple to deep right center past a diving Adam Eaton. He would score on a Andre Rienzo wild pitch to make the score 5-0 in the fourth. Rienzo allowed 54 pitches through two innings, which signaled that it would be a long afternoon for the White Sox.
“Everybody contributed, and it was nice to see,” Girardi said after the game.
If Jeter collects 74 more hits the rest of the season, which is realistic, he will finish in sixth place in the all-time hits list behind only Tris Speaker, Stan Musial, Hank Aaron, Ty Cobb and Pete Rose.
Before the game, the White Sox gave gifts to Jeter just like every team is doing after Jeter plays his last game in their stadium. He received dirt from the old Comiskey Field, a bench made of baseball bats that honored other Yankees legends and a $5,000 check for his Turn 2 Foundation.
Conor Gillaspie’s single that drove in Tyler Flowers in the sixth was the only run the Yankees allowed. Adam Warren and Matt Daley pitched the final 2.1 innings and they both continued to be reliable options out of the bullpen. Daley hasn’t allowed a run in his last seven appearances and Warren lowered his ERA to an impressive 1.55.
The Yankees will travel south to St. Louis and start a three-game series against the Cardinals on Memorial Day. The game will start at 4:05 p.m. EST and will be televised on ESPN.
Chase Whitley, who allowed one earned run in his first two starts, will pitch for the Yankees as they try for their third consecutive win. Michael Wacha, who is 12th in the National League in ERA and 6th in strikeouts, will get the start for the Cardinals.
On Wednesday, the Yankees won the second and final game of the series against the Cubs at Wrigley Field. After losing the first game 6-1 after Tanaka allowed three earned runs and picked up his first loss since August of 2012, the Yankees won in 13 innings on Thursday as Preston Claiborne picked up the win as he pitched 1.2 scoreless innings and executed a perfect sacrifice bunt in his first MLB at-bat.
After Jeff Samardzija had yet another outstanding start but did not get the win as a result of the Yankees scoring two runs in the ninth to tie the game, Matt Daley, Matt Thornton, Claiborne and David Robertson, who picked up his ninth save in as many chances, combined to only allow two hits in four innings.
Chase Whitley, who was making his second start, held his own once again as he allowed one run in 4.1 innings while striking out three. Dellin Betances came on in relief of him to pitch 1.2 perfect innings and add three more strikeouts. He now has an impressive 45 strikeouts in 26 innings.
In the ninth inning, when the Yankees were losing 2-0, Ichiro Suzuki scored after grounding into a fielder’s choice to the shortstop and then Brendan Ryan scored the tying run after defensive replacement Darwin Barney made an error throwing to first.
The Yankees came through in the clutch off of Cubs closer Hector Rondon. The offense came up big once again in the 13th inning. After Ryan singled to leadoff the inning and Yangervis Solarte walked, Claiborne’s perfectly executed sacrifice bunt in front of the pitcher advanced the runners to second and third with two outs. Ryan, who came into the game in the ninth inning, scored the winning run on a wild pitch by former Yankee Jose Veras, and John Ryan Murphy’s single sent Solarte home from third.
Murphy is now hitting an impressive .406 in 32 at-bats. Solarte, who had two hits in four at-bats and scored that insurance run, improved his average to .317. He is still leading the team in average, on-base percentage (.394), RBI (24) and total bases (70). The Yankees (24-21) would not be in first place in the American League East without Solarte, who had previously spent his career in the minors in both the Minnesota Twins and Texas Rangers organizations.
The Yankees will now move onto the south side of Chicago where they will play the White Sox for four games at US Cellular Field. Thursday’s game will be at 8:10 p.m. EST. The White Sox, who have a 23-25 record and have lost three of their past five games, are third in MLB in runs scored, seventh in batting average and seventh in slugging percentage.
However, the White Sox are now without impressive rookie Cuban slugger Jose Abreu, who is out indefinitely with an ankle injury. He was leading the team in homers (15), RBI (42), and runs scored (29). He is also currently leading the AL in homers and RBI. The Yankees are lucky that their depleted pitching staff will not have to face him in this series.
On Thursday night, White Sox ace Chris Sale will make his return from the disabled list. His last start came on April 17 when he allowed one run in seven innings to the Red Sox. Sale had a 1.23 ERA in two starts against the Yankees last season.
For the Yankees, David Phelps will get his third start of the season since Michael Pineda was put on the disabled list. Phelps has allowed one, four and zero earned runs respectively in those three starts. His best start came on May 17 against the Pittsburgh Pirates as he struck out a season-high five batters and walked three in five scoreless innings. He was able to earn his first win of the season.
On Wednesday it was revealed that Pineda, who is on the disabled list as a result of a back strain, is making progress and looked comfortable during a 30-pitch bullpen session on Wednesday at Yankee Stadium. This obviously means that he has not suffered a setback, which is a good sign.
The starting pitcher on Friday for the Yankees will be Hiroki Kuroda (3-3, 4.61 ERA), and the starter for the White Sox will be former Yankee Hector Noesi (0-3, 5.32 ERA). On Saturday, at 2:10 p.m. EST, Vidal Nuno (1-1, 5.82 ERA) will face John Danks (3-4, 5.64 ERA). In the series finale, at 2:10 p.m. EST on the YES Network, Andre Rienzo, who is a rare baseball player from Brazil, will get the start for the White Sox. Masahiro Tanaka (6-1, 2.39 ERA), the rookie sensation from Japan, will look to bounce back from his first loss of the season.
This will be the first series that the Yankees have played against the American League Central this season.
The Yankees won two out of three game in the weekend series against the Baltimore Orioles. However, they definitely had a chance to win the third game on Sunday.
They were winning 3-0 in the sixth inning when Joe Girardi took Andy Pettitte out of the game with runners on first and second. It made sense that he put Shawn Kelley into the game, since he had prevented a very small amount of inherited runners to score this season, but unfortunately Kelley gave up a single and a home run to J.J. Hardy, which was the start of a seven run inning for the Orioles.
Girardi can’t really be blamed for bringing in Kelley because Pettitte was approaching 100 pitches (93) and that has been his limit this season. He is 41, so it makes sense for him not to throw too many pitches especially because it has been working recently. The bullpen has been very reliable recently and that was a situation where Kelley should have come through for the team.
Another factor that contributed to the loss for the Yankees was that they left 10 men on base and went 1-for-10 with runners in scoring position. For the rest of the season, the Yankees can’t afford to waste opportunities like they did Sunday afternoon.
The Yankees had a chance to move within 2.5 games of a Wild-Card spot if they had won because the Tampa Bay Rays lost yet again to the Oakland Athletics. Their loss on Sunday makes the upcoming series against the Chicago White Sox even more important for the Yankees to sweep.
Phil Hughes, who has a 1.38 ERA in 10 games pitched and six starts against the White Sox, will start Monday afternoon. He has been the least reliable and inconsistent pitcher this season for the Yankees, but Hughes does pitch better at home and has a history of pitching well against Chicago. Hughes, whose 4.91 ERA is one of the worst in baseball, has pitched better recently as he has not allowed more than three runs in his last three starts.
The Yankees will need Hughes to pitch into the the sixth inning allowing three runs or less and the offense will have to come through with runners on base. The White Sox (56-79) have the second worst record in the American League and have scored the fewest runs in the AL.
Hiroki Kuroda (11-10, 2.89 ERA) will pitch on Tuesday and CC Sabathia (12-11, 4.91 ERA) will get the start on Wednesdy. This the first of 12 games that the Yankees have against last place teams in their final 26 games. They will need to win 10 of the 12 games against the cellar dwellers if they are going to make the playoffs.