On a brisk night in the Bronx, the Yankees welcomed the St. Louis Cardinals into town for a three-game weekend interleague set. Masahiro Tanaka pitched for New York and recorded his best outing of 2017, pitching into the seventh en route to his first win of the year. On the mound for St. Louis was Michael Wacha; who pitched well for the Cards tonight, but was bitten by the longball one too many times which ultimately led to his and his team's demise.
Tanaka struggled early, giving up the lead in the top of the first inning. 2016 All-Star shortstop Aledmys Diaz got it going with a one out infield single. The next batter Matt Carpenter unloaded on a "hanging" fastball by Tanaka to the tune of a 400+ft homerun to right field that gave the Cardinals an early two run lead.
But the Yankees were quick to respond as they came back to tie the game in the bottom of the first. Brett Gardner started off the inning with a four-pitch walk and scored when the next batter Starlin Castro crushed a two run homer to right center field that tied the game at two apiece. And the longball bit Wacha again in the bottom of the second where Austin Romine ripped an opposite field solo shot that put the Yankees up by a 3-2 score.
New York kept the offensive pressure on as a key hit and a key error led to the Yankees tacking on an important insurance run in the bottom of the fourth. Tonight marked the first time in the career of Jacoby Ellsbury that he hit fourth in the lineup. And the managerial decision paid dividends as Ellsbury got things going with his second hit of the night: a one-out opposite field single. And not that a multi-hit night isn't impressive, but it was Ellsbury's speed that was crucial, as the next batter Chase Headley smoked a ball down the right-field line all the way to the wall. Ellsbury was held up at third by third base coach Joe Espada, but the relay throw from Kolton Wong got away from the catcher Yadier Molina; allowing Ellsbury to dart home and score to extend their lead out to two.
The Cardinals got one of those runs back in the top of the seventh as they knocked Tanaka out of the game. Matt Adams started off the frame with a single, but was thrown out at second on a fielder's choice by Yadier Molina. After a Jhonny Peralta walk advanced Molina to second, Randall Grichuk smoked a double to left that scored Molina to pull St. Louis to within one. Tanaka was then lifted for Tyler Clippard, who got out of the mess by getting Dexter Fowler to fly out to right field. Tanaka pitched much better tonight than in his previous two outings, departing with a final line of 6.1 innings pitched, allowing three runs on five hit with two walks and five strikeouts.
The trio of Clippard, Betances and Chapman(or as I like to call them - the CBC or Center for Baseball Control) pitched lights-out baseball tonight; combining to allow just two hits while striking out four en route to their game one win. And because Chapman and Betances were used last night as well, they will be unavailable for tomorrow's game.
Game two tomorrow will be much more of a challenge as the Yankees square off against the Cardinals ace Carlos Martinez. First pitch is scheduled for 1:05 PM/EST and can be seen on the YES Network and MLB.TV.