Following a heartbreaking 13 inning defeat, the Yankees will turn to Masahiro Tanaka to keep them alive in the American League Division Series.
On Thursday evening, I found myself headed back home to Orlando from a business trip in Indianapolis. By the time I made it through airport security, Yankees catcher Gary Sanchez had already hit a two-run shot off the impenetrable Corey Kluber.
Wow, I thought to myself, this is exactly what I spoke about in that morning’s article — how the Yankees needed to jump on Kluber early in order to potentially rattle his cage.
A short time later, after enjoying some delicious Chick-Fil-A, I passed by a TV on my way to the gate to see the game now tied at two.
Not good. After getting off the phone with my father, I checked the ESPN app to see the Yanks had taken a 6-3 lead, following an Aaron Hicks three-run bomb. A short time later, Greg Bird launched a two-run moonshot to put Game 2 of the ALDS out of reach — or so I thought.
As I boarded the plane, set for a pitstop in Atlanta, I prayed Delta carried the MLB Network. They don’t. A little over an hour later, upon touching down in Braves Country, I once again checked my phone.
This time, to my displeasure, the Indians had rallied back to tie the contest at eight. That blasted Jay Bruce again! Sometime later, I found another TV outside a sports bar, only to witness the Ronald Torreyes getting picked off second base fiasco.
Suffice to say, I was about as deflated as a Tom Brady Super Bowl football.
So I got on another plane, set my final destination — waiting with trepidation to learn the fate of my beloved Bombers.
Ninety minutes later, there it was. A text from my father telling me that the Yankees had lost in the bottom of the 13th inning.
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Was I surprised — no. Disgusted — yes. Especially after reading the multitude of ways Joe Girardi and company let the all-important game slip through their fingertips. By now you know the mistakes Girardi made, and the inability of the players on the field to put the contest away — so I won’t irritate you by replaying them.
This is where we find ourselves. With their backs up against the wall, the Yankees will turn to a familiar face in Masahiro Tanaka.
In what could very well be his final start as a member of the Yankees, Tanaka will be asked to do everything possible to pitch like he did against the Blue Jays in his final regular-season start, when he struck out 15 batters.
Sure it’s only his second career Postseason start — the first one coming in a loss against the Astros in the 2015 wild-card game. That night, Tanaka labored through five frames with no run support to speak of. That can’t happen again.
Yes, the Indians are batting .349 with a .912 OPS, lifetime versus Tanaka, but he’s the best the Yanks have left. Luckily, the Indians haven’t seen him since 2016 — you know, when he was good. That night, Tanaka owned The Tribe, allowing one run in six innings while striking out eight.
If Tanaka’s splitter is on, the Yanks have as good of a chance as any of playing in Game 4. If not, expect to see wild-card starter, Luis Severino early. And if that’s the case, we better hope the bats come alive — like they did for the first five innings of Game 2.