Well that was fun, huh? You never truly "need" to win a game in the first few weeks of April, but in the interest of not having the panic meter turned up on them, it would have behooved the Yankees to get a win and salvage something from this series and the first week of the season. They wasted little time in making sure that happened, jumping out to a 7-0 lead in the bottom of the 1st and never looking back.
That early lead came against 1 of the 4 Red Sock aces, Clay Buchholz. He's had a spotty history against the Yankees and last night was not his finest start. He began the 1st by walking Jacoby Ellsbury on 5 pitches. A well-executed hit-and-run later and it was runners on the corners with nobody out.
Carlos Beltran brought home Ellsbury with an infield single (for real), Mark Teixeira walked, and Brian McCann reached on an error to load the bases, and wouldn't you know it, Alex Rodriguez came to the plate. He was looking first-pitch fastball and he got one that he could handle, lacing it into the left-center field gap for a bases-clearing double. The Boston pitching coach came out to talk to Buchholz, but it was already over. He gave up a 2-run home run to Chase Headley next, and 2 pitches later a solo shot to Stephen Drew to make it 7-0. The rout was on.
And that cushion was more than enough for Masahiro Tanaka. In his second start of the year, I thought he looked pretty good, definitely better than Opening Day. He was throwing his fastball more in the early innings and working it all over the strike zone. He had a tight slider that he commanded well away, and he did throw a few good splitters. Once again, however, he got burned by bad defense, this time in the top of the 4th when Drew and Didi failed to execute a potential double play grounder. That turned into 2 runs when Xander Bogaerts doubled to make it 7-3, but Tanaka showed some muscle by striking the next 2 hitters out to end the inning.
The Yanks didn't wait around to get their runs back. Brett Gardner singled in 2 and Teix hit a sac fly in the bottom half of the 4th, and they kept tacking on from there. A-Rod walked with the bases loaded, Headley singled, and Drew hit a sac fly to make it 13-4 in the 6th, and Brian McCann lined a homer just over the right field wall for the extra point in the 8th.
Tanaka was gone after 5, a solo homer off the bat of Hanley Ramirez the other run against him. David Carpenter got 5 outs and Kyle Davies got the final 7 to give the bullpen another day of rest. The Yankees are now unbeaten this season when I'm watching. True story.
- If you want to take a negative from this Tanaka start, it would be the low number of swinging strikes he got (5). Boston is a patient team, and they got their fair share of friendly calls on or just near the corners, but they also laid off a lot of offspeed pitches with 2 strikes, like they were picking them up and recognizing them earlier. Tanaka's splitter wasn't that great last night. It broke too early and not as sharply as it usually does, but that'll happen. The fastball was there, he was mixing pitches, and he got up to 97 on his pitch, so his arm had to be feeling plenty good.
- Offensive stars up and down the lineup last night, but the fact that everybody got involved was the best part. Every starter had at least 1 hit, 4 had at least 2, every starter scored a run, and 4 different guys drove in 2 or more runs.
- 6 team walks to 5 team strikeouts. 6-10 with RISP. Much, much better.
- On the error in the 4th, the official scorer gave it to Drew but I thought both guys should have split it if that were allowed. Drew's throw was bad, bad enough to pull Didi off his line, but I thought it was still catchable and Didi could have altered his path to make sure he caught the ball and at least got 1 out. He tried to keep turning 2 when the feed throw was bad and he shouldn't have done that.
- On Hanley's homer, meh. It was late in the game, Tanaka left a 3-2 slider up, it happens. I thought he got boned on the 2-2 sinker for strike 3, but then again I'm a Yankee fan.
- Nice return to MLB action for Davies, but I really hope he's sent back down today. He and Esmil Rogers in the same bullpen is not something that inspires confidence.