A win this afternoon would have been nice. It would have given the Yankees a 3-1 series victory in the 4-game weekend set against their division rival. But in the grand scheme of things it didn't matter. What mattered was getting a look at Masahiro Tanaka and seeing how he pitched and how his elbow held up after over 2 months on the DL. It was an abridged version of a typical Tanaka start, but it was enough to give a little hope at the end of a long, hopeless season.
It didn't start out great. The first 2 Jays hitters singled to start the game, and 1 run scored on an Edwin Encarnacion GIDP. That got Tanaka back on track quickly and he struck out Dioner Navarro on 3 pitches to end the inning. He gave up only 1 more hit in the next 4 innings and was mixing pitches well to get easy outs. 2 more singles in the 6th brought him to 70 pitches and brought Joe out to end his day. 5.1 innings, 5 hits, the 1 1st inning run, and 4 strikeouts with no walks. Not bad at all.
It was all about the top of the order for the offense today. A Brian McCann solo home run in the bottom of the 1st tied the game. A Brett Gardner solo shot to lead off the 5th put the Yankees ahead. Gardner doubled to lead off the 7th, scored on a Derek Jeter double in the next at-bat, and McCann brought 2 more home next with his second homer of the day. 5 runs scored on the day and all 5 of them were scored and driven in by the top 3 in the batting order.
Joe wasn't playing around with his bullpen understudies today. Adam Warren followed up Tanaka and worked around his 2 on/1 out jam with a pair of strikeouts. He pitched a perfect 7th too to get Betances and D-Rob. Betances wasn't sharp, perhaps due to lack of recent work, and gave up a run on 2 singles and 2 stolen bases in the 8th. David Robertson pitched around a 2-out walk for his 38th save.
- Top 3 in the lineup: 6-12, 2 2B, 3 HR, 5 R, 5 RBI. Rest of the lineup: 2-20. Both hits were by Ichiro.
- 4th straight 2-hit game for Jeter and third game with an extra-base hit in his last 4. This has easily been his best chunk of games all season. Pretty cool.
- Third straight game with a ribbie for McCann, and his first 2-homer game since April 12th against the Red Sox.
- Warren looked out of gas for most of August, but he's caught a second wind in September. 1.64 ERA in 11.0 innings and 7 K in his last 3 appearances.
- Some final numbers on Tanaka. Threw 48 strikes on 70 pitches, 13 first-pitch strikes to 21 batters faced, forced 8 groundball outs, and had 6 swinging strikes. I don't think his stuff was as nasty as we've seen it earlier and his fastball wasn't as fast, but he looked pretty good for a guy who missed as much time as he did.