This is a Gary Sanchez world and we are just googly-eyed visitors. The kid did it again (and again) and powered the New York Yankees to a win in dreary Tropicana Field against the Bay Rays. All Sanchez did was go three for four with a walk, two more homers and five runs batted in. Have you ever seen one of those strongman exhibitions where one big guy is pulling a bus or something? Right now, that bus is the Yankees and Sanchez is that strongman.
Thank goodness for those heroics because Yankee pitchers could not keep the Rays' batters in the orange juice garden. Masahiro Tanaka pitched five strong innings. But he pitched six innings. One was not so good. In that one inning, Tanaka performed a Michael Pineda impression. But more on that in a minute.
The Yankees had build up an early pizza against a helpless Alex Cobb. Cobb, making his fourth start of the year, had nothing and saw his pitches land on the Yankees' maple sweet spots with regularity.
The Yankees scored a quick three in the first on a Brett Gardner single, a Jacoby Ellsbury walk, a Gary Sanchez single which plated Gardner, a Brian McCann single that scored Ellsbury and then a two-out single by Ronald Torreyes.
After an efficient first inning by Tanaka, the Yankees came back for more. Donovan Solano singled and was followed by another Gardner single. Gary Sanchez came up and destroyed a baseball for his eighteenth homer. McCann singled and Mark Teixeira hit the ball hard for a single that became a double after it bounced over Jeff Decker's head. That was the end of the night for poor Alex Cobb. Cobb faced fourteen batters and only got four of them out. He was tagged with another earned run after Didi Gregorius hit a sacrifice fly off of reliever, Steven Geltz.
Tanaka and Sanchez seemed a little out of sync in the bottom of the second. Tanaka walked two batters and threw two wild pitches, but no runs scored. That would happen in the next inning.
After Geltz tamed the Yankees in the top of the third, Tanaka went all Pineda on the field. Before the dust had settled (oh right, there is no dust in Tropicana Field) the Rays had four runs on solo homers by Bobby Wilson, Evan Longoria, Brad Miller and Corey Dickerson. None of them were cheap. Puzzling--and it might have cost Tanaka in the Cy Young Award thing (not that he was going to win it anyway).
Things stayed pretty quiet after that until the top of the sixth when Gary Sanchez hit his second homer of the night off of reliever, Justin Marks, to give him nineteen in his remarkable short career. That ties McCann for the year with 280 less plate appearances. His RBI total now matches Mark Teixeira's for the year. Heady stuff.
Sanchez's second shot made the score 8-4 and Tanaka's night was done after six. Adam Warren induced three straight ground ball outs in the seventh and got the first out of the eighth and you could see Girardi pacing in the dugout pondering if he should pull Warren. He didn't and let him pitch to Brad Miller. Another solo homer was added to the tally to take the score to 8-5. Tommy Layne and Tyler Clippard cleaned up the rest of the inning nicely.
The Yankees then put it away in the top of the ninth off of Erasmo Ramirez, one of their favorite punching bags this season. Didi Gregorius beat out an infield single and went to second on a ground out by Torreyes. Gregorius then scored on a single by Mason Williams to make it 9-5. Then Donovan Solano hit his first homer as a Yankee and with a six-run lead, Jonathan Holder pitched a perfect ninth to seal the deal.
The KC Royals lost, the Blue Jays lost to the Mariners (which is good and bad), the Orioles lost, the Astros won and the Tigers' game is delayed. The Yankees are two and a half back in the wildcard with eleven games to go.
- The Yankees pounded out 17 hits. Jacoby Ellsbury did walk and score a run, but, was the only Yankee in the lineup that did not have a hit.
- Brian McCann had a great night and went four for five
- Mason Williams had a nice night and went 2 for 5.
- Donovan Solano had three hits including a homer.
- Brett Gardner had two hits in six at bats.
- Evan Longoria has had a great year. His 36 homers are a career high and he also has the highest slugging percentage of his career.
- Brad Miller has hit seven homers against the Yankees this season.