Friday night in the Bronx, the Yankees hit four singles that scored two runs in the first inning off 24-year-old Cleveland starter Aaron Civale. What “Twilight Zone” episode was I watching? No home runs? Oh boy, someone is going to get fined tomorrow.
What could they have been thinking about? They know that the crowd of 45,015 came to see home runs. Though the nice beach blanket give away to the first 40,000 made a lot of fans happy, another Yankees win without a home run sent them home knowing their team is closer to the postseason and the Indians could be a possible opponent.
Aaron Judge worked on pulling balls in batting practice before the game and sure enough he laced a hard line drive to left for a single in the first. He followed that with a hard shot to the corner in right field for a double in the fifth.
It was the Indians Yasiel Puig who kind of nonchalantly retrieved a fifth inning double and on the next play showed that lack of enthusiasm when D.J LeMahieu grounded a single to right. Puig misplayed that hit allowing Judge to score an unearned run.
“That’s baseball.” he said in the Cleveland post game clubhouse.
This is a guy who has an accurate cannon for an arm as evidenced when he threw out Cameron Maybin by ten feet trying to tag on a middle of the field fly ball to right. Sending Maybin on Puig’s arm was ill advised at best. If anything is certain, the acquisition of Puig to the Indians at the trade deadline fortified their ability to keep runners from taking that extra base.
Puig also kept one Yankee runner from scoring from second on a routine ground ball base hit to right and kept three runners from tagging up from third on fly ball outs because of that deadly rocket arm. That kept the game at 3-2 in what could have easily been a 5-2 Yankee lead after seven innings.
Puig later homered on a first pitch off of starter Masahiro Tanaka that left the the ballpark to right and faster than money leaves your wallet at the concession stands. That was home run number 24, and despite his sometimes questionable play in the field, it is quite clear to see that he was a valuable pick up for the Indians.
When the next batter, Jose Ramirez, also hit the first pitch he saw for a double, manager Aaron Boone lifted started Masahiro Tanaka who went 6.1 solid innings, no walks, two strikeouts and two home runs.
Tanaka with an outstanding splitter and great command showed why there is no question that he is the Yankees ace and should be their number one in the playoffs.
If these two teams meet in the playoffs, the difference will be in the bullpens. They both have explosive offenses but the overwhelming edge goes to the Yankees because of their dominating relievers. Aroldis Chapman closed it out for the Yankees and recorded his 34th save after walking his first batter. Puig would pop out and Chapman got Jose Ramirez and Jason Kipnis to swing on 100-mile fastballs to end the game.
Also of note, Luke Voit took ground balls today and looked to be pain free as his range of motion was tested. Boone said he would be sent to Trenton and rehab there until the Yankees return from their west coast trip.