(Courtesy of the AP)
The games that Masahiro Tanaka pitches have really been the only ones in which the Yankees have had a good chance to win lately. Even with the confidence he brings, the pitiful offense has been unable to support him enough to get wins his last 2 times out, and Tanaka entered last night's start on unfamiliar ground, saddled with a 2-game losing streak. He was out there again, opening up a long weekend series in Minnesota against former Yankee reclamation project and probable All Star Phil Hughes, and despite pitching his worst game as a Yankee, he got enough support from newest lineup member Zelous Wheeler and the offense to end the Yanks' 5-game losing streak.
- The Twins picked up runs in the 1st and 3rd innings thanks to some strong run manufacturing by the top of the Twins lineup. Brian Dozier singled to start rallies in both innings and came around to score on a double and a groundout.
- The Yanks broke out against Hughes in the 5th with a quick single-single-3-run homer-groundout-solo homer stretch of at-bats that put them ahead 4-2. Carlos Beltran hit the 3-run shot while Wheeler recorded his first MLB home run on the solo job.
- A pair of doubles in the 6th and 7th led to 2 more Minnesota runs. Tanaka just didn't have much in the way of stuff or command. Maybe the transition to regular rest hasn't been as smooth as it first looked.
- Those runs didn't hurt too bad thanks to a big 3-run top of the 7th by the lineup. Brendan Ryan of all people doubled home a run, Brett Gardner singled 1 in, and Derek Jeter brought Ryan in with a groundout for the 7th and final run.
- Joe didn't play around late, removing Tanaka after 7 and going with Dellin Betances and David Robertson for the save. Betances fanned 2 in the 8th and D-Rob struck out the side in the 9th. Filth personified.
- Wheeler: 2-4, 1 HR, 2 R, 1 RBI, 2 LOB. Joe went with him last night because Hughes has a big reverse platoon split and he made the right call. Excellent debut for Wheeler.
- Bullpen: 2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 5 K. When it's the 2 best guys Joe's got out there, that's a tall task for any hitter.
- Tanaka: 7 IP, 9 H, 4 ER, 0 BB, 3 K. Definitely the most un-Tanaka-like that Tanaka has looked all season. Incredibly, this was the first time he's failed to turn in a quality start this year. That's pretty amazing. Don't see any way he gets moved in the rotation so he can pitch in the All Star Game. The Yanks need him to get all the rest he can.
Big time pitching matchup for the 4th with Chase Whitley and Kyle Gibson squaring off this afternoon. Hopefully folks enjoy that one outside with a beer and a brat in their hands.