It was a game in which the Yankees HAD to get a win. They were 1-4 on their homestand, having lost two of three to the Twins, the first two of a three game set against the A’s, and four in a row overall. Their offense has been brutal, and when they have had a lead, the bullpen hasn’t been able to keep it. Plain and simple, the Yankees have been struggling. And who better to turn to when you’re struggling than Masahiro Tanaka? Tanaka has been OUTSTANDING for the Yankees, having established himself as the clear ace of the pitching staff. Coming into Thursday’s game, Tanaka was flaunting an 8-1 record, and an AL best, 2.06 ERA to go with it. He was looking to continue that dominance today.
Before the game, the Yankees held a moment of silence for longtime former bench coach Don Zimmer, who passed away yesterday at the age of 83. Zimmer was the bench coach for the Yankees from 1996-2003, and helped guide them to four World Series titles during that span.
Things didn’t get off to a great start for Tanaka however, as he gave up a home run to the second batter he faced, in Josh Donaldson. It was the first home run Tanaka has allowed in his last six starts.
In the bottom of the inning, after a single by Derek Jeter, Jacoby Ellsbury lined what appeared to be a home run into right field. The umpires initially ruled it a homer, but after a challenge by A’s manager Bob Melvin, it was confirmed that the ball had not cleared the wall, and Ellsbury was forced to stay at second with a double. The Yankees would not score in the inning.
This was also Carlos Beltran‘s first game back off the DL. It was an uneventful day for him, but some other guys in the Yankee lineup were able to pick up the slack. In the second inning, with Brian McCann on second base, Alfonso Soriano, who had been going through such a terrible slump, came through. He lined a base hit into center field, and driving in McCann to tie the score at 1.
Leading off the third, Brett Gardner CRUSHED a solo shot into the second deck, to put the Yankees ahead by a score of 2-1. And after the rocky start, Tanaka was cruising along, refusing to let the A’s get any sort of rally going. The only problem was, neither could the Yankees.
Dellin Betances relieved Tanaka in the seventh. He left in line for the win, with his final pitching line reading 6 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 4 SO. Betances got the A’s to go quietly in the seventh, but in the eighth, things started getting dicey for the Yankees. Adam Warren came on to pitch the eighth, and allowed back to back singles to the first two batters he faced. He wouldn’t brake however, as he went through the heart of the A’s lineup, striking out Josh Donaldson, getting Brandon Moss to line out to right field (with some help from Ichiro), and with runners on second and third after a wild pitch, was able to get Yoenis Cespedes to strike out to end the threat.
In the ninth, it was all up to the closer, David Robertson. After getting Jed Lowrie swinging for the first out, Stephen Vogt smacked a single into center field. Chris Gentry then came on to pinch run for Vogt, and promptly stole second. Alberto Callaspo then came up to bat, and lined what should have been a game tying RBI single back up the middle. However, in his reaction to the ball being hit back towards him, Robertson was able to kick the ball towards Mark Teixeira at first base. Robertson then beat Callaspo in a foot race to first for the second out, as Gentry advanced to third. It was all down to this. Two outs, the tying run 90 feet away, the Yankees looking to brake out of their losing streak. After a little bit of a battle, Robertson finally got Derek Norris looking to end the game, sealing the 2-1 victory for the Yankees.
The Yankees will travel to Kansas City to face the Royals tomorrow night, looking to start a win streak. It will be Chase Whitley for the Yankees (0-0, 2.37 ERA), against Jeremy Guthrie (2-5, 4.00 ERA) for the Royals.