Yankees Sweep Sox, Tanaka Magnificent, Ortiz Waits By The Phone

Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports
Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports /

The Yankees beat one of the most dominant pitchers in baseball last night, but it was one of their own who proved to be even better as he dissected a Red Sox lineup that is looking more and more like it misses a key ingredient that is no longer there.

The Yankees ran into a buzzsaw last night facing Chris Sale, who on almost any other night would have registered a clean and efficient win for the Red Sox. Sale’s ten strikeouts over eight innings while surrendering only three runs should have meant that the Sox, a run producing machine not too long ago, barely broke a sweat in scoring four or more runs for him.

But that’s the trouble. The Red Sox don’t score runs like they used to. And it’s becoming more and more apparent that when David Ortiz settled into that rocking chair the Yankees gave him at the end of last season, the Red Sox lost not only more than the 200 runs he accounted for, but also disappearing was the threat of scoring even more runs in an inning, especially against the Yankees.

It’s likely that Ortiz had second thoughts about retiring with the numbers he was able to put up last year. But after deciding to go Hollywood in allowing celebrations in his honor at every ballpark, he visited, even to the point of the Red Sox etching a Christ-like image of him in centerfield at Fenway, what was a real man to do?

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He could have played another season, and he might have been able to play even more. After all, all he had to do was climb the steps of the dugout four times a game and swing his bat.

And it would be a miracle, given his large frame, if Ortiz has kept himself in baseball shape since leaving the game. But if somehow he has, don’t be surprised if he’s called back by the Red Sox to rescue their sputtering offense.

Tanaka Is Magnificent

Masahiro Tanaka pitched like a surgeon last night, making masterful cuts in the Red Sox lineup with a mix of pitches that Chris Sale can only dream of having in his arsenal.

ESPN Stats put together a breakdown of how Tanaka wore down the Red Sox last night. It’s reprinted here:

ESPN Stats and Information

"65% ground ball rate (17 ground balls out of 26 balls in play). That’s his 4th-highest in a game since the start of last season, which wouldn’t be notable but for this … 3 of the 4 have come at Fenway Park * His putaway pitch was his splitter. Red Sox were 0-for-11 with 3 K and 8 ground balls vs the pitch. Opposing hitters are 1-for-25 against Tanakas’s splitter in his last 4 starts (opponents were 5-7 against it on Opening Day) * Also of note: Threw 21% cutters, his 2nd-highest usage of the pitch in his career (2015 vs Rangers, 22%). Though he only threw 10 of 20 for strikes, he got 4 outs, yielded no baserunners with it."

Video Courtesy of the YES Network

Tanaka’s complete game effort, the Yankees first this year, moves his record now to 3-1. His ERA still looks bloated (for him) at 4.19, but that’s mainly due to the hiccup he had in the season opener against Tampa Bay.

Turning The Page

The Yankees come home now for six games against the Baltimore Orioles and Toronto Blue Jays.

Ironically, at this juncture of the season, the series with the Orioles packs more wallop that the just completed one with the Red Sox.

Once again, Buck Showalter has his team “up” for every game. The fun part, though, is that the Yankees have no trouble getting up for every game they play as well.

CC Sabathia (2-1, 2.70) gets the ball tonight in the always crucial first game of a three-game set. Didi Gregorius is ready to rejoin the team and will likely make his first start of the season at shortstop.