Tanaka’s back, franchise home runs number 14,999-15,001 slammed out of the park, the Yankees won and took the series from the Blue Jays (3 of 4 games), oh and it was a beautiful Sunday afternoon. I already love having to write today’s blog post.
Masahiro Tanaka threw 70 pitches in his 5.1 innings over the final game of the 4-game weekend series against the Blue Jays. Most people did not think Tanaka was going to make the rehab push to return before the end of the season, and yet, it was Tanaka to start today, delivering what many believed to be a similar outing to his pre-injury days. In other words, the Tank is back.
Tanaka allowed 5 hits and just 1 run, striking out 4 Toronto batters. That sole run came right in the 1st inning when Tanaka was shaking off the rust. After putting runners on the corners with back-to-back singles and no outs, Tanaka got a batter to ground into a double play, and though it scored a run early in the game, the Blue Jays should have seen this particular play as the start of things to come for them. Because once Tanaka gets rolling, he doesn’t let up.
And on a personal note, I almost forgot how much I love watching Tanaka pitch. It’s like a study in fluid perfection.
Adam Warren came on in relief of Tanaka in the 6th inning, once Tanaka hit the magic number of 70 pitches (all he would be allowed for today’s start). And Warren kept the Blue Jays to that sole run through the 7th inning as well. Dellin Betances gave up a single that stole 2nd and 3rd and then scored on another single. But that was it for the Blue Jays’ offense, as “Sweet Home Alabama” played David Robertson in for the 9th inning and earned Robertson his 38th save (and Tanaka’s 13th win) of the season.
Now, in order for a win and a save and the above-mentioned milestones, there needed to be some offensive contributions. And I’m sure the Blue Jays found it rather offensive (sorry, I’ve been waiting to do that pun for almost 2 years now). In the bottom of the 1st inning, with 2 outs and Blue Jays up by 1 already, Brian McCann tied the game with a solo home run — also the Yankees’ franchise home run #14,999.
Social media did not have to wait long to find out who was going to hit #15,000. That honor went to Brett Gardner in the 5th inning to push the Yankees over the Blue Jays 2-1, a lead the Yankees never gave up. Gardner met with the family in the right field seats that caught his home run today, spending time chatting and autographing bats and balls.
But the Yankees weren’t done there. In the 7th, Gardner led off with a double, ended up at 3rd on a passed ball, and then scored on Derek Jeter’s double. (3-1 Yankees) But it wasn’t quite enough. Brian McCann hit another home run, this one a 2-run dinger into the right field seats (a very popular place for home runs in Yankees Stadium, by the way) to push the Yankees up 5-1.
Even with the Blue Jays’ extra run in the 8th, the game still wound up favoring the Yankees with a final score of 5-2.
Also worth noting, Carlos Beltran has opted to delay his elbow surgery until the close of the 2014 season, though he probably won’t see much play time unless absolutely necessary. But Jeter is expected to play every game until the end of the season, with a few games slotted for the DH role, also known as a “half-day off”. I suppose to most people it would seem to appease the rabid fans with their camera phones, signs, screams, and chants who want to see the Captain just one more time. But I’m guessing it’s probably more related to the fact that Jeter said he hates “days off”, and perhaps instead, it’s more to appease him for not having to warm the bench in what will be his final week playing regular season baseball.
Bring on Baltimore… the Yankees are just getting warmed up. A little late in the season perhaps, but it ain’t over just yet…