Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Tanaka Bounces Back

It was a busy Memorial Day weekend, for reasons that will remain private (but, for the most part, enjoyable). And I was unable to post about the Sunday afternoon Yankees-White Sox finale. So I'll recap that now, and do a separate post for the start of the Yankees-Cardinals series.

Masahiro Tanaka shook off his first major league loss, and pitched well into the 7th inning of the final game of the Yankees' unprecedented (at least, for them) 6-game-both-teams series in Chicago: 1 run, 5 hits, 2 walks. He simply pitched as though the worst performance of his (as yet brief) big-league career had never happened.

This is what I like about Tanaka: He pitches as if pressure means nothing. Later in the season, when the Yankees are fighting for Playoff position (to get in at all, or to be Division Champions instead of a Wild Card team), he won't let it get to him, and he'll pitch as if it's a lazy Sunday afternoon game in May.

Of course, a great pitching performance also needs runs to back it up, or else the other pitcher will also look effective (even if he isn't, and the other team is simply not hitting).

The Yankees opened the top of the 2nd inning with Yangervis Solarte hitting a ground ball that was booted for an error. After an Alfonso Soriano flyout, Ichiro Suzuki singled, and Brian Roberts drew a walk to load the bases. Brett Gardner singled home Solarte and Ichiro, and that would be all the Yankees needed.

But it would not be all they would get: A bad pickoff attempt moved Roberts to 3rd base and Gardner to 2nd. Derek Jeter (you may have heard of him) singled home Roberts. Jacoby Ellsbury hit a sacrifice fly to score Gardner. 4-0 Yankees.

The White Sox never recovered. With 2 out in the top of the 4th, Jeter tripled, and, for the 3rd time on this Chicago roadtrip, the opposing team sent a Yankee run home with a wild pitch. Ellsbury subsequently struck out, and wouldn't have gotten credit for the RBI even if he'd gotten a hit, since the run already scored. There's no way to measure how (if at all) he had anything to do with the run scoring, but it still score, so the at-bat was productive, if not for him personally.

Jeter had 4 hits on the day, including an RBI single in the 5th inning, and Brian Roberts added a home run in the 8th. In case you're keeping track, so far in the 2014 season, that's 2 homers this season for Roberts... the same number as Robinson Cano.

Adam Warren and Matt Daley pitched 2 1/3 innings of scoreless mopup relief: Yankees 7, White Sox 1. WP: Tanaka (7-1). No save. LP: Andre Rienzo (4-1).

So, in spite of some weak hitting and a David Robertson meatball that Adam Dunn turned into a walkoff home run, the Yankees leave Chicago having split the trip, 3-3. Not good, but hardly the disaster it was looking like when it started out 1-3.

I'll detail yesterday's game in St. Louis in my next post.

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