What is one way to make sure the bullpen doesn’t ruin the game? An offensive outburst! The Yankees took game three of the four-game series with the White Sox thanks to youngsters driving in tons of runs and Masahiro Tanaka coming up solid. This was a very, very stress-free game especially considering how things have gone lately for the Yankees. 10/10, would watch again.
The narrative so far has been that Masahiro Tanaka has been in a serious funk this season. However, he’s shown signs of coming out of that slump lately. Including tonight’s start, Tanaka has marked a 2.92 ERA in the past four GS (8 ER in 24.2 IP), striking out 32 and walking 7. That’s more like it. Four games wouldn’t really qualify as the stretch that turned the season around, but for now, it is an encouraging sign.
Looking at Brooks Baseball, Tanaka got 15 whiffs total, with 12 coming from his slider, sinker and splitter. He also brought some extra juice tonight, topping out at 97.3 mph with his four-seam fastball and averaging 94.9 mph. Whoa. His splitter also hit 90 mph multiple times in the YES gun, for what it’s worth. Good conditions? Amped up?
The only major trouble came in the bottom of the fifth. With the Yankees carrying a 3-0 lead, Tanaka allowed the first four hitters to reach base. Omar Narvaez singled to lead it off and Adam Engel hit a double to put two runners in RISP with no outs. Yolmer Sanchez walked to load the bases and Melky Cabrera hit a 2-RBI single to center to make it a 3-2 game.
Fortunately for the Yankees, that was all the damage Tanaka allowed in the frame. Jose Abreu grounded into a double play to give Yankees two quick outs and Tanaka got Todd Frazier to force out to second to end the inning. When it was all said and done, it was a solid 2 ER, 6 IP outing for Tanaka. His season ERA dropped from 5.74 to 5.56 and he earned the 6th victory of the year. It would be very ideal for the Yankees for that ERA to keep decreasing.
The Yankees scored the first runs of the game thanks to some sloppiness from the White Sox. Carlos Rodon, making his first start of the year after missing the first few months suffering biceps injury, was clearly rusty. Brett Gardner walked to lead off the game. In a span of three hitters, Gardner reached to second and third respectively with two wild pitches from Rodon. He scored when Didi Gregorius hit a grounder that looked like an out at first glance, but SS Tim Anderson’s high throw pulled the first baseman off the bag as Didi reached safe. 1-0 Yankees.
Rodon’s command continued to struggle as Chase Headley and Austin Romine worked a back-to-back walk to load the bases. Miguel Andujar, a 22-year-old making his ML debut, hit a grounder up the middle to drive in two. 3-0 Yankees. Not a bad way to make an impression, eh?
As noted, Tanaka got into a bit of a pickle in the bottom of the fifth and allowed two runs. Holding a slim 3-2 lead, the Yankees needed to extend it to make it a stress-free ending after a whirlwind of bullpen nights they had lately. Thankfully, that’s exactly what they did. In the top of the sixth, the kids and Aaron Judge dropped a five-burger on the ChiSox pitching.
With one out, Romine doubled to right to get on base. Andujar grounded softly to put the runner at third and Tyler Wade followed it up with his first ML base hit, an RBI double drilled to left field. Ronald Torreyes continued the doubles parade by hitting one to the right field and scoring Wade. Gardner hit an RBI single to center that drove Toe in. Aaron Judge, being Aaron Judge, then hit a 115 mph screamer of a home run to make it 8-2 Yankees. An all-around enjoyable inning right there.
The Yankees tacked on four more in the top of the ninth. Against the tall RHP Michael Ynoa, Judge started it off with a swift, 5-pitch walk. After Gary Sanchez struck out swinging, Gregorius brought two runs in with a home run just above the right field fence. 10-2 Yankees. They were not done there. Headley and Romine worked back-to-back walks and Andujar doubled to drive both of them in to make it 12-2 Yankees.
Boy, how about Miguel Andujar’s night? He put himself in elite company with tonight’s 3-for-4, 4 RBI performance … a company of only himself. Per Katie Sharp, he’s the only Yankee to have 3 hits and 3 RBI’s in an ML debut. Not bad for a guy who was behind Gleyber Torres in the system’s 3B depth chart. Wade did not have as an awesome night but he did have a double and a stolen base. Pretty fun stuff when the team calls up talented youngsters and they contribute right away.
Aaron Judge, as mentioned, hit another HR tonight and had a solid 1-for-3, 2 BB game. He became the first player this season to crack the 5.0 fWAR mark. By my calculation, he’s on pace for a ~10 fWAR season, which is Trout-esque. His line for this season? .333/.449/.704.
The Yankees brought in Tyler Webb to close the game out and he allowed a HR to Adam Engel, who was one of the very few bright spots for the Sox tonight (2-for-3 and a great catch to rob Torreyes of an extra base hit). Besides that, Webb finished the inning and the game for a 12-3 Yankees victory.
Box score, standings and WPA graph
The Yankees will look for a series win tomorrow at the Guaranteed Rate Field. Luis Cessa will be on the hill seeking for his first win of the season while the White Sox will start James Shields.