Game 20 Recap: Sale was great, but Tanaka was better in 3-0 win

Who else was ready to pencil this one in as a loss with Chris Sale starting for the Red Sox? The Boston southpaw has been the best pitcher in baseball thus far; he entered tonight with a microscopic 0.91 ERA in 29.2 innings. He's given the Yankees fits historically, too. In 53.1 innings against the Yankees, Sale owns a 1.17 ERA. Dominance.

So, after the rainout on Tuesday and the victory last night, splitting a short two game set at Fenway Park would have been a completely acceptable outcome. The Yankees thought otherwise, though it wasn't really Sale's fault. Masahiro Tanaka, the Yankees' ace, was brilliant.

One way to beat Sale is to not allow a run, and that's what Tanaka did against the Red Sox. He went the distance and pitched his first complete game shutout since his rookie year against the Mets. The Red Sox didn't put up a fight, reaching base on three singles. It wasn't a classic overpowering performance, as Tanaka only struck out three, but he did induce an impressive fifteen groundouts. Further, he was efficient, needing only 97 pitches to seal the deal. It was sheer brilliance.

Sale was masterful until he ran out of gas in the ninth. In the first three innings, he fanned seven Yankees and had only allowed an infield single to Ronald Torreyes. In the fourth inning, the Bombers managed to break through with some help from Boston catch Sandy Leon. To start the frame, Aaron Hicks singled in front of right fielder Mookie Betts. Chase Headley tapped back to Sale for the first out, moving Hicks to second. With Matt Holliday at the dish, Leon suffered a passed ball that allowed Hicks to reach third. To beat someone like Sale, scoring with a runner on third and less than two outs is imperative, and the Yankees did just that. In a ten pitch battle, Holliday delivered a sacrifice fly to left. It was 1-0 Yankees.

Aside from a baserunner here and there, Sale cruised over the next four innings and came out to start the ninth. Hicks and Headley delivered back to back singles to start the inning. Up came Holliday again, who jumped on a first pitch changeup for an RBI single to make it 2-0 and knock Sale out of the game.  John Farrell summoned Heath Hembree from the bullpen, and Starlin Castro greeted him with an RBI single to make it 3-0. Hembree would wiggle out of further trouble, but the damage was done. With Tanaka on the mound and cruising, a three run lead felt like ten. Tanaka induced three soft groundouts in the ninth to finish his scintillating performance.

Say, did that game feel fast to anyone else?

A Yankees-Red Sox game in 2 hours and 21 minutes is blasphemy. We're fortunate when it doesn't creep too much over 3 hour

The Yankees (13-7) finished this road trip in Pittsburgh and Boston 3-2. Tomorrow, they're back in the Bronx to begin a weekend series against the first place Orioles (14-6).