Full disclosure, I fell asleep last night when this game was 4-4. And boy am I glad I did because this one didn't end pretty. The Yankees dropped their third straight to Boston, clawing back from an early 3-run deficit, briefly taking the lead in the later third of the game, and then watching their crumbling, leaky bullpen give it right and lose the game in extras.
The big story last night was Masahiro Tanaka's return. Joe said he would be ready to throw 100 pitches and there were no restrictions on him, but Tanaka sure didn't look that way to the naked eye. To me, he looked like a guy who was pitching to protect his hamstring. He didn't throw a lot of fastballs, didn't throw many hard ones when he did, and none of his offspeed pitches had their usual bite. The Red Sox hitters squared him up a lot in the top of the 1st to create a 2-out rally, starting with Xander Bogaerts' single and ending with Travis Shaw's 3-run home run to right.
The Yankees got a little 2-out rally of their own going in the bottom of the 2nd. Chris Young singled, Greg Bird drew a walk, and new platoon second baseman Rob Refsnyder rocketed a ground-rule double to right to plate Young. Bad break on the ball going over the wall, as Bird probably would have scored if it bounces off the wall and stays in the park, but the Yankees were on the board.
And right back in a 3-run hole in the top of the 3rd. Dustin Pedroia led off with a G-R double to left, moved to third on Bogaerts' sac fly, and scored on a David Ortiz single to left-center. Everything was a little off for Tanaka - missing off corners, leaving splitters up, pitches up in the strike zone - and the Red Sox hitters really seemed to be identifying different pitches well. Tanaka got through the 5th without any more damage, but he threw a ton of 3-ball counts and Joe ended his night at 95 pitches.
Wade Miley had also been worked hard by the Yankee lineup over the first 4 innings, and they got to him in the 5th for 3 big runs. Jacoby Ellsbury led off with a double, Alex Rodriguez drew a 1-out walk, and Carlos Beltran doubled to deep right-center. Once again, the ball bounced over the wall and the Yankees only got 1 run. But no worries, because Brian McCann hit a grounder to first to score A-Rod, and Chris Young came through with a single to score Beltran and tie the game at 4.
Matt Barnes came on to pitch for Boston in the 6th, and he got rudely greeted by A-Rod with 2 outs and nobody on. After taking a fastball for ball 1 and swinging and missing one for strike 1, A-Rod took a changeup for a ball on pitch 3. Up 2-1 and having just seen the change, A-Rod went hunting for another fastball and got one in the kill zone that he drove out to left for a solo home run. Helluva time for one too.
The lead should have been in good hands going to Millances, but Dellin quickly killed the vibe by serving up a meatball to Mookie Betts to lead off the 7th. Betts tied the game at 5 with a solo shot and the offense went in the tank after the 8th. They drew three straight walks to start the inning, 4 overall, and didn't score a run. Ellsbury got picked off, Beltran and Gardner grounded out. It was the last good chance they'd have.
With Betances and Miller already used, Joe had to take his chances with the rest of the crew in the 11th. He went with Andrew Bailey and Chasen Shreve and those moves blew up in his face big time. Bailey gave up 3 base hits to set the table, Shreve knocked everything off and onto the floor on another Mookie Betts home run. Ballgame.
- 2-4, 2 R scored, 2 walks for A-Rod. Hasn't had many games like that lately.
- Strong night for Greg Bird too. He singled and walked twice in 3 plate appearances, and had very good at-bats every time up. He's starting to get better at laying off pitches in certain situations. That's only going to help make him better.
- 5 IP, 5 H, 4 ER, 1 BB, 3 K for Tanaka. I'm not a doctor and I'm not him, so what the hell do I know about how good or bad his hamstring feels? What I do know is that I don't feel all that great about him pitching the WC card game, and I don't like that feeling.
- Bailey and Shreve: 0.2 IP, 5 H, 4 ER. A commenter said it best recently. When all you have out there is crappy options, you're going to make a crappy decision. Hard to get on Joe for these guys sucking as badly as they do right now.
- This just in: Mookie Betts is reeeeeeaaaally good at baseball.
- Andrew Miller still looked good in his 2 innings, so we've still got that going for us. He also threw 38 pitches, so no chance he's around tonight.
- Refsnyder just keeps on hitting. 2 hits, 2 walks, drove in a run. Good for him.
- Need a win tonight. Have to have one. Cannot lose a 4-game home series in a playoff race to any team, let alone the Red Sox. Get a win tonight, lock up the WC this weekend. Come on now.