It’s Saturday night in the Tampa area. So many things to do and see, but really all anyone cared about is the Rays-Yankees game. Well. not really, but if you’re reading this, you probably are more interested than what was happening across the bay at some hockey game. For the record, only one Tampa area team won tonight, and it certainly wasn’t the guys in cleats on astroturf.
But before we talk about the outrageous show of Yankee offense, let’s talk about some masterful pitching by a master artist. We all know Masahiro Tanaka hasn’t been his sharp, on-point self that we came to know and love early last year before his elbow injury. But something clicked tonight, and that Tanaka nasty pitching style just got a little wicked at the Trop. Overall, Tanaka threw just 85 pitches over his 7 innings. After a lead-off single, he would get 15 straight batters out before giving up a 6th inning lead-off double to break that streak, but he got another 6 straight outs to end his outing. He only gave up those 2 hits, no walks, and no runs, striking out 8 Rays batters tonight.
Reliever David Carpenter came on in the 8th inning, throwing just 10 pitches, giving up nothing to the Rays except a strikeout. In the 9th, new reliever Branden Pinder got himself into some trouble over his 34 pitches that inning, loading the bases with a hit and 2 walks before getting himself out of the inning unscathed.
The Yankees could afford to have a less-than-stellar inning by then because they just showed up big time in the latter half of the game. After going scoreless for the first 5 innings, Gardner and Rodriguez ended up on base with walks and 2 outs on the scoreboard before Brian McCann’s triple sends them both home. It was just the beginning.
In the 7th inning, Headley led-off with a single, causing the Rays to finally pry open their bullpen. It didn’t help them much, but it certainly made things easier for the Yankees. Drew doubled (though why it wasn’t ruled an error, I’m not quite sure), putting runners in scoring position. Then after Gregorio Petit hit a long sacrifice fly to right field, Headley came home to score as the right fielder threw the ball in for the tag, but was declared safe at home; the Rays challenged the close call, but the call was upheld and the run scored safely. There was just 1 out at this point.
Ellsbury singled, moving Drew to 3rd who then scored on Brett Gardner’s single. This forced another pitching change for the Rays. But it still didn’t work for the them, immediately walking Rodriguez and loading the bases for the Yankees. Mark Teixeira then hit a sacrifice fly and scored Ellsbury, and Brian McCann was hit by a pitch to once again load the bases. Tonight would paint Chris Young the hero in “Away Greys” with his monster grand slam. The Yankees ceased accumulating runs at this point in the game, but no more runs were needed.
Final score: 9-0 Yankees. A very solid, much-needed win.
Tomorrow, the Yankees will look for their first sweep of the season against the Rays. Fingers crossed here, but it’s already a pretty good momentum these guys have. We just need to see it continue and build. Though I don’t know how you can really build that much beyond excellent starting pitching, monster offense (including a grand slam), and some nifty defense. But it’s the Yankees — so I think they can probably find a few ways to crank it up a couple notches.