As the Red Sox came into the Bronx to write the next chapter of one of the great sports rivalries of all time, Yankee fans had to watch their ace recede into the shadow of none other than Chad Green who attempted to put the stopper in another Masahiro Tanaka head-scratcher. Despite Green’s 3.1 innings of scoreless ball, it was not enough to lift the Yanks above a 5-4 loss.
1st inning woes continued for Tanaka as he could not keep the Sox off the board. Just a lead-off line drive by Mookie Betts followed by two ground balls produced by two and three hitters Benintendi and Bogaerts was enough to take a lead over New York before even one out was recorded in the game.
As Tanaka came out for the second and third, we saw what may have felt like a different pitcher than whoever pitched the 1st, as he was finding his locations and outnumbering his balls with strikes while working the two quickest half innings we would end up seeing for the entire ballgame. It was in the fourth when Mitch Moreland and Hanley Ramirez went back to back over the fence when you could tell Tanaka was going to have to fight for any out he could as long as he remained in the game.
In the fifth, when Andrew Benintendi went yard on a Tanaka sinker to bring Boston’s lead up to 5-1, it secured that all three homers had been on three different pitches (Moreland, slider, and Ramirez, splitter) which are supposed to sit atop his arsenal; Tanaka simply didn’t have his best stuff. After Tommy Lane came in and walked his man, it was Chad Green to the (attempted) rescue as he racked up as many strikeouts as Tanaka gave up runs.
The Yankees did in fact fight until the end, on the life support of talk-of-the-town Aaron Judge and fellow Yankee youngen Aaron Hicks robbing Jackie Bradley Jr. of extra base hits on separate occasions, and scratching out runs however they could (including but not limited to a ground ball double play and a strikeout), but once Craig Kimbrel was brought in the bottom of the eighth inning for the four out save, with his MLB-leading .085 average against his four-seam fastball, the Yankees couldn’t catch up to his blistering pitch which this season is averaging just under 99 mph.
As Tanaka continues to get barrelled up more than mostly every single pitcher in all of baseball, he leaves opposing pitchers like Drew Pomeranz to find himself in full counts almost every single at bat and with over 120 pitches before he even finished the fifth inning to stay in the game regardless whether or not he may have his best stuff on that night and add a plus one to their win column.
With the Yankees atop arguably the best division in baseball, one could only imagine what this team would look like if they can crack the code of their ace. For now, they will need to count on CC Sabathia to overtake Rick Porcello on Wednesday to retake their momentum in their race to remain leaders of the AL East.