With a terrific starting pitching performance from Masahiro Tanaka and a shut down 7-8-9 from the Yankees well rested back-end of the bullpen, the Yankees managed to salvage one game of their first post-All Star Break series.
Games 1 and 2 were unmemorable except in that they confirmed that the days off for the All Star Game did not heal what ails the Yankees offense, and suggested that the recent slide by CC Sabathia is not just a small blip but rather a trend (he is 2-3 with a 5.66 ERA over his last 15 starts).
Game 3, however, was a good one. According to media reports, Joe Girardi said, before Sunday’s game, that this game was one of the most important they’ve had in July in quite some time. It felt a little like the kind of thing a manager says with his ace on the mound and with his team facing a pitcher they’ve had considerable success against in the past. (The Yankees have hit David Price to the tune of a 7.79 ERA so far this season)
They showed the outside world, and perhaps ownership as well, that this team is still capable of rising to a challenge and of responding to their manager.
After Dustin Pedroia smacked a 1st inning HR, it looked like the manager made a bad call, but both Tanaka (6 IP, 1 ER) and the Yankees offense (11 hits, 3 runs) responded, taking the lead in the 4th inning and never letting it go.
It was the kind of well paced attack that, if the Yankees could consistently put together, they would silence all this “sell off” talk. Tanaka was efficient and, if not for the well rested back end of the bullpen, could have gone at least one more inning. The three hitters atop the lineup all had multi-hit games, joined by Didi Gregorius and Starlin Castro. Their aggressive base running paid off and they kept the pressure on Price and the bullpen.
After the weekend series, the Yankees fell to one game back of .500. Next up is a four game set against the A.L. East leading Baltimore Orioles followed by a three game set against the San Fransisco Giants (even year magic). Just two weeks remain until the trade deadline and the Yankees need to do more then just salvage games in order to avoid the sell off.
Let’s see if they have what it takes.