Masahiro Tanaka threw a complete game tonight. Unfortunately, he also lost because of two mistake pitches. With 116 pitches over 9 innings, he allowed 7 hits, 2 runs, and a walk, and struck out 8 Red Sox batters. Basically, the only time Red Sox batter got close to scoring was due to solo home runs in the 3rd and 9th innings.
Well, the Red Sox struck first getting their first run in the 3rd. But the Yankees responded by collecting their own tying run in the bottom of the 3rd by a collection of small ball kind of plays. First, Brian Roberts reached on a fielding error, and Yangervis Solarte was hit by a pitch, taking a ball off his foot that bounced into his stomach (double bruises tomorrow). Gardner’s sacrifice bunt pushed them both along the base path, so that Derek Jeter’s ground out could easily score Roberts.
And the game sat tied 1-1 until the 9th inning. Tanaka got 2 outs on the board and was just one out away from turning the tied game over to the Yankees offense or at least into extra innings. With 2 strikes already earned, he shook off other pitches, perhaps due to his pitch count being over 100 at that point, and opted for a fastball he put right over the plate (as opposed to one of his nasty splitters, which is usually a better option in this scenario). The batter smacked a solo home run into the first row of the right field seats to push the Red Sox up 2-1.
The Yankees were unable to put together anything against the Red Sox closer, who is honestly very good, and thus lost the game.
Half the fun of a Yankees-Red Sox game is watching both teams kind of show off their stuff. And tonight’s game was no exception. I have to be honestly, with some minor exceptions, both teams really had some great defensive plays. There was even a really good double play by the Red Sox in the bottom of the 8th.
But the best Yankees play has to be the one made in the 6th inning, when a Red Sox batter got what should have been safely a single, but tried to stretch it into a double. Ellsbury, in center field, grabs the ball and throws it to Roberts waiting at 2nd to get the runner. Initially, the runner is called safe, but on a challenge and review, it was rightly overturned and deemed out. It was a mistake on the runner’s part to try to turn an obvious single into a double, because although he’s a pretty quick runner, Ellsbury’s got a great arm. Bottom line: Red Sox got greedy and they lost that one. (Life lessons all around there!)
And if we’re going to be honest, the Yankees couldn’t get a legitimate hit against the Red Sox starter until Gardner got a single in the 6th. Of course, the Yankees got on base in other ways (like walks and an error); but still, it’s worth mentioning as the Red Sox haven’t really had a banner year so far to back up their championship title from last year.
By the way, it was once again a rather quick game for this rivalry series at 2 hours, 47 minutes.
All-Star Game news: the voting window to vote for the All-Star Game is coming to a close on Thursday, July 3. So vote now and vote often (up to 25 times, or 35 times with an MLB.com account). As of a press release last Sunday, Jeter is currently in the lead (by almost a half a million votes) for starting at shortstop for what will be his final (and 14th) All-Star Game. And then tune into the All-Star Game, live from Target Field in Minneapolis, on July 15. While Jeter seems to be a rather sure thing, there are other Yankees who could see considerations for an ASG appearance (including Betances). And there is a new way they are selecting people to participate in the Home Run Derby, this year under AL captain Jose Bautista of the Blue Jays and NL captain Troy Tulowitzki of the Rockies. It’s a bracket system now, and I’m not sure I like it or how it will turn out. But I guess there’s always a first.