Not a bad way to close out the Yankees’ first home stand of the season. And the Yankees were looking for a solid win to carry into their short road trip to Pittsburgh and up to Boston next week. They certainly made that work in their favor. And now, with the 4 home runs in tonight, the Yankees lead the AL with 22 home runs this season (and 3rd in all of MLB behind the Brewers and Mets, oddly).
Masahiro Tanaka had a great outing tonight in the series finale against the White Sox, throwing 96 pitches through 7 innings. He gave up 6 hits, 2 walks, and a run, and struck out 6 Chicago batters. His lone struggle fell in the 4th, when a lead-off double moved to 3rd on a ground out and then scored on another double. It would be the only run the White Sox got tonight.
Tanaka handed the game over to the birthday boy Bryan Mitchell for a beautiful 19-pitch outing into the 9th inning. Tommy Layne took over for the final 2 outs, in just 8 pitches.
The White Sox’s starter had a much less pleasant experience in the Bronx tonight right from the start. The veterans started the fun. Brett Gardner led the game off with a double and ended up on 3rd due to a fielding error. Then Chase Headley followed him up with a big 2-run home run to start the home run rally tonight. And in the 2nd, the young guys got in on the action. Judge singled and Bird doubled to start off the inning. Austin Romine singled home Judge, and Torreyes’ fielder’s choice scored Bird to give the Yankees a solid lead.
Then in the 5th, with 2 outs and Holliday and Ellsbury on the corners with consecutive singles, Starlin Castro hit a big 3-run home run into the visitor’s bullpen. Only to have that followed up by one of the hardest hit, biggest home runs ever in Yankee Stadium by (who else?) Aaron Judge, a deep solo home run into the left field bleachers. And I’m pretty sure it bounced off those flag poles between the upper decks in left field and the scoreboard over the visitor’s bullpen and bleachers.
Then the Yankees faced a couple of good relievers of the White Sox bullpen for a couple of innings, but then they faced one that was not so much. Pinch-hitter Aaron Hicks led-off the 8th inning with a solo home run to add just one more to the Yankees’ lead tonight.
Final score: 9-1 Yankees, Yankees win series 2-1.
And here’s some random facts about tonight’s big play: Judge’s home run in the 5th tonight was his 5th home run of the season. It traveled 448 feet into the stands, coming off the bat at 115.5 mph, making it the hardest hit home run in Yankee Stadium. According to Statcast, it left the stadium in 6.2 seconds and the 3rd longest home run in Yankee Stadium (falling short of Holliday’s monster 459-foot one just 2 days ago). This and Castro’s homers are the first back-to-back homers of the season for the Yankees.
Injury news: Gary Sanchez threw a bit on the infield hours before tonight’s game. It was the first time he’s thrown a ball since injuring his arm last earlier this month. He later posted on his own Twitter account that: “Rehab is going well. Hope to be swinging soon. Thank you for the well wishes.”
And highly rated Yankees prospect Gleyber Torres, currently with AA Trenton, is currently on the 7-day DL after an MRI revealed he had inflammation in his shoulder. But common thought seems to be it will be a brief stint thanks to things like rest and treatment.
Before the game, Brett Gardner got honored with another award from his outstanding performance last season. Tonight, he was presented with his Gold Glove Award. The Gold Glove Award is given annually to the players who have “exhibited superior individual fielding performances at each fielding position in both the National League (NL) and the American League (AL), as voted by the managers and coaches in each league”. Yes, Gardner is continuing to get the recognition that we all know is well-deserved.