Saturday after his team lost their second straight out of the all-star break to the Boston Red Sox, manager Joe Girardi said that Sunday night was the most important game in a long time to be played by the New York Yankees in the month of July.
So what do the the Yankees do, and against Red Sox starter David Price? They got the early and timely hit, six good innings from their righthander Masahiro Tanaka and left the rest to Dellin Betances, Andrew Miller and Aroldis Chapman out of the bullpen.
The 3-1 win and banging out 11-hits does not mean the Yankees saved their season, Nor does it mean that they will win the AL East, or for that matter be one of two wild card teams come October. And the win does not stop speculation that the Yankees will be buyers or sellers come the non-waiver trade deadline of August 1st.
What the win means is, the Yankees are again one gave closer to the .500 mark at 45-46, still trailing first place Baltimore by 8-½ games and five out of the wild card picture with 71 more games to play. The schedule is not in their favor with 46 to be played against teams in their division.
And two of those teams, Boston and Toronto are ahead of the Yankees in that wild card chase. So, yes, in a way this was an important July game in the Bronx, and the Yankees did what they had to do.
Those first place Baltimore Orioles come to the Bronx Monday night, and perhaps those four games will be more important than the one the Yankees won Sunday night.
“ It was a must win for us today,” said Carlos Beltran, and his 2-for-4 night with a double made another impression on the many scouts who are monitoring him and a few other Yankees, assuming the team becomes sellers by the deadline.
Beltran is indeed the Yankees hot hitter, and has been their consistent punch in a lineup that is considered to be very inconsistent. But he came through and so did the Yankees in this rivalry of two teams that is not as intense as it once was.
“We knew that were going to face a good pitcher in Price,” said Beltran. “Thank God we were able to put some runs on the board which were huge for us and Tanaka pitched a great game.”
And if the Yankees want to make a run, which is not out of the question with the amount of games remaining, Tanaka has to continue to throw as effective as he did Sunday night. His cutter and slider moved, and with the exception of a first inning home run ball that Dustin Pedroia hit to left field off a breaking ball, the Red Sox had no answer.
Tanaka said, it was the added rest of six days that helped But the issue with the Yankees which has put them in their difficult position is that starting pitching that has been inconsistent. There is no telling if Ivan Nova, Nathan Eovaldi, Michael Pineda and CC Sabathia will top Tanaka.
They get the next four starts against Baltimore at Yankee Stadium, and a split or taking three of four from the Orioles still may not be enough to gain some ground because the Yankees need to win series and many of them.
‘I thought he have us everything he had,” Girardi said about Tanaka. “And I thought he aired it out in the sixth inning, and I just said it’s an important game and we have those big three guys down there at the end of the game for a reason, so I’m gonna go with them.”
That has been the Yankees plan from the beginning, going to the big three. Betances was perfect in the seventh and so was Miler in the eighth as they combined to throw 29 pitches. Chapman, on 18-pitches and throwing the fastball at 100 and 101, earned his 18th save.
The scouts were also monitoring his pitches, and Miller also. They are two viable closers that could help a team in contention, that is possible if the Yankees decide to not get within reach before that deadline.
As for the Red Sox, a loss did not hurt them. They are within reach and already have made some moves to keep them there down the stretch. Sitting in good position, two games behind the Orioles and a game up in the wild card standings, Boston could afford a loss with an off day Monday.
The disappointment is their ace, Price who came into the game with 14 wins against the Yankees, the most for an active pitcher in the American League. He took the loss, now 9-7, tossing 5.2 innings, and extended his scoreless streak to 13.01 innings before a Starlin Castro fourth inning RBI double that led to a three-run inning for the Yankees.
Price was more concerned about not helping his team win their seventh straight.
“You’re the guy who goes out there and doesn’t help us win that seventh one,” he said. “That’s tough.”
It would have been tough for the Yankees if they got swept. They won this game in July and now four more with the Orioles become even more important. because this is a season for a team that needs as many wins as they can in this second half.