Game 54 Recap: Yankees 3 Mariners 1

Tanaka vs SEA Today was a big day.  It was Masahiro Tanaka's day to return from the disabled list, and before this afternoon's game I wrote a little something that touched on some of the concerns about his comeback. As it were, there was little cause for concern because Tanaka was spectacular today.  He was as good as we've seen him this or last year and he carried the Yankees to a sweep-clinching victory and a sweet ride back home for the weekend.

The only real trouble Tanaka had was in the bottom of the 3rd.  Brad Miller tripled off him to start the inning and Dustin Ackley brought him home with a double in the next at-bat.  Tanaka escaped without further damage, and the only other hit he allowed came with 2 outs in that inning.  He retired the first 6 batters he faced before the 3rd in order and he retired the next 12 he faced after the 3rd in order.  He was really dialed in.  Struck out 9 batters in 7 innings and only needed 78 pitches to do it.  7 of the 9 strikeouts were looking.  It was almost total domination.

The lineup didn't generate too much run support for Tanaka, but he really didn't need it.  Mark Teixeira kept his powerful season going with a solo home run to get the Bombers on the board in the top of the 2nd, and after Seattle tied it with their one big inning in the 3rd the Yankees responded with a 2-run rally in the top of the 4th against Taijuan Walker.  Alex Rodriguez walked to start the inning and Garrett Jones brought him home with a 2-out, 2-run home run, his second in as many days.  2 outs, 2 runs, 2-man rally, 2 straight days with a homer for Jones.  I don't know what it means, but it meant a late-game lead for the bullpen today.

Chris Capuano got the first shot in the 8th and I understood that decision by Joe almost as little as I understood the last few Carpenter decisions.  He gave up a single to Justin Ruggiano then struck out Miller to get 1 out, and Joe pushed all his chips into the middle by going to Andrew Miller for the 5-out save.  Miller made people sweat by loading the bases on a walk and a hit batsman, but recovered to strike out Logan Morrison and induce an inning-ending grounder from Austin Jackson to calm the storm.  He handled the heart of the Seattle order in the 9th for his 17th save in 17 tries and the Yankees had their second sweep in 3 series.

Game Notes:

- 7 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 9 K, 78 pitches, 58 strikes, 22 called strikes, 9 whiffs.  Tanaka and Joe said after the game that this was the best he's looked all year and it's hard to argue with that take.  His fastball was lively, his command was spot on, and the Mariner hitters never seemed to be able to pick up on anything after a few turns through the order.  If this is how he looks when he's still getting back into full game shape, I shudder to think of the destruction he's going to leave when he really settles in.

- Truly not a lot of offense from the Yanks today.  They had 5 team hits and Didi was the only player with more than 1.  Go figure.

- Miller threw 35 pitches but I really didn't get people complaining about Girardi using him there.  Betances wasn't available and the last 3 games Miller pitched were on 6/2, 5/30, and 5/27.  He got multiple days off multiple times in a week and there's an off-day tomorrow.  Joe wanted to win the game.  What's the big deal?

- By the way, Miller has now allowed 8 hits and has struck out 40 in 25.0 IP this year.  His batting average against is .094.  Dude is a monster.

- That's a .241/.357/.575 slash, 15 HR, and 41 RBI for Mr. Mark Teixeira this season as well.  Prettay, prettay, prettay good.