Yes, it rained again today. But fortunately, it was a brief shower before the game so it didn’t stop play, just delayed the start time a bit (about 28 minutes). And yes, it was another afternoon game in the Bronx with weird quirks once again.
Actually, it was better than that. It actually was quite the pitchers duel for most of the game between one of the Rays better pitchers and Masahiro Tanaka. The Yankee batters were the ones to break up the pitchers duel in the 6th inning as Gardner led-off with a single. Jacoby Ellsbury then hit a big 2-run home run to give the Yankees the lead, only to be followed-up right away by Gary Sanchez’s solo home run into the visitor’s bullpen.
Now, Tanaka certainly kept things in command for 7 full innings. It wasn’t until the 8th inning that things got slippery for him. Until then, Tanaka had thrown 90 pitches, given up just 4 hits, no walks, and no runs, striking out 9 Rays batters. He added another strikeout (for a total of 10 today) to kick off the 8th inning, but then he gave up a solo home run to get the Rays on the board too.
Okay, Tanaka barely hit the next batter, literally just grazing his jersey, on his 102nd pitch of the afternoon (a challenge and replay upheld the on-field call), and it was onto the bullpen as Tanaka exited the field to a cheering crowd. Adam Warren promptly plunked the next batter, but he got the next guy to ground into a double play to end the inning and threat.
The Yankees added to their lead in the bottom of that inning a bit. With the Rays starter out of the game, Gardner led-off with a single and moved to 3rd on Ellsbury’s ground-rule double. The Rays opted to walk Gary Sanchez, but he wasn’t having any of that and swung at a close ball and hit it all the way to the back of center field. It was a sacrifice fly, scoring Gardner and moving Ellsbury to 3rd, but it was just a few feet away from being a nice 3-run homer.
And we’re all with the Rays’ manager asking, “What happened?” Because who does that? Oh, yeah, Gary Sanchez does that. Then Didi Gregorius follows that up by hitting a sacrifice fly to score Ellsbury to give the Yankees a hefty lead.
In the 9th inning, Richard Bleier breezed through the first 2 outs in 9 pitches before handing the ball over to Tyler Clippard. Clippard threw just one pitch which became a soft ground out to end the game.
Final score: 5-1 Yankees.
Before the game, the Yankees’ starters had some very important shadows this afternoon. The Little League World Series champions (from New York) took the field with their Yankee counterpart for the playing of the National Anthem. The young ball players won this year’s series against the team from South Korea, with a final score of 2-1. They are a great group of kids, who went undefeated in the playoffs. Congrats on the title, boys! Hopefully, some of that good luck can rub off onto the big boys you met today!