There's a big nit to pick from today's game if you want to pick it. But in all honesty, if you're not tickled pink by the outcome of today's game and smiling from ear to ear at where the Yankees stand right now, you're the wrong kind of Yankee fan.
Might as well get the nitpick out of the way right up front. Masahiro Tanaka gave up 3 home runs today. All 3 were solo and they were the only runs the Orioles scored all game, but that is 5 homers allowed for Tanak in his last 2 starts and 11 in his last 6. There have been a lot more hangers from him this season and hitters have been teeing off on them lately.
When he wasn't throwing those bad pitches, Tanaka was a beast. The Orioles only managed 2 more hits off him in 7.2 innings, he didn't walk a batter, and he struck out 7. His stuff and command seemed to get better and sharper as the game went on, and he was up in pitch count when he gave up 2 of the homers in the 8th inning, so fatigue could have been a factor. For the most part, Tanaka was his usual dominant self.
And Ubaldo Jimenez was his typical terrible self against the Yankees. He loaded the bases in the 1st on an Ellsbury leadoff single and 2 walks, and after getting 2 outs he couldn't escape the clutches of Chase Headley, who smacked a bases-clearing double to center for a 3-run lead. Didi Gregorius followed up with a base knock of his own and the Yanks went up 4-0.
It didn't stop there. They made it 5-0 on a home run by Jacoby Ellsbury to lead off the 2nd inning, and 7-0 on a pair of singles and a Stephen Drew 2-run double to end Ubaldo's day before he got out of the 3rd. That was all they would need, but that didn't stop Ellsbury from knocking in 2 more in the 5th with a defense-aided double.
It was cruise control to the end for the bottom of the bullpen. Always good to see that Chris Capuano and Branden Pinder are alive and well out there. The Yankees sweep the series, go up 7 games in the loss column in the AL East heading into tonight, and cut their magic number down to 62.
- Monster days up and down the batting order. Ellsbury went 3-4 with 2 runs and 4 RBI, and fell a triple short of the cycle. He's got a hit, a double, and a R scored in each of his last 3 games, and is up to .308/.382/.390 on the year.
- Didi and JRM also had 3-hit days in the 7-8 spots, with 3 runs scored to boot. Love when you can get that kind of production from the bottom third.
- Headley went 2-4 with the big 3-RBI double. He's slowly inching that OPS back towards .700. Maybe that's the second half surge kicking in again.
- With all of the above, it's easy to see why the Yanks cruised today despite a combined 0-11 with 5 strikeouts from Gardner-A-Rod-Teix. Not often you can say all of those words together.
- If you want a reason to not pick the Tanaka home run nit, how about 19 swinging strikes out of 77? His stuff is so damn good that he can't help but be dominant when he's got it going. He's had on-and-off issues with his command all year. I imagine it's a byproduct of the time off early in the year. As long as he's pitching into the 7th and 8th innings, keeping run counts low, and striking guys out, I'm not worried.
- Too bad they can't face Ubaldo every day, huh? He came into today's game with a 5.48 ERA against the Yankees in 8 starts. He left with a 6.60 ERA.
- Did you realize that Capuano hadn't appeared in game since July 7th? That's over 2 weeks ago. That's insane! Dude must have racked up a helluva sunflower seeds consumed count over that time span.