Tanaka gets best of Ohtani, Angels to secure series win for Yanks

On a cold, dreary day in the Bronx, the Yankees, backed by Masahiro Tanaka, beat the Angels 3-1 to take the rubber game of a three-game weekend series. It was a solid, if unspectacular, bounce back effort for the Yanks after dropping last night’s contest, 11-4. The Angels entered the series with an MLB-best 16-5 road record, so this was a quality series win for the Bombers.
Photo Credit: Katherine Malone-Van Dyke
On the mound, Masahiro Tanaka put together his best start of the month, going six innings while allowing one run. The first inning saw Tanaka come through with two big strikeouts with a runner on base. First, Tanaka got Mike Trout to go down swinging after a 10 pitch at-bat. In the first two games of the series, Trout was 6-7 with two HR and five RBI. Later on, Tanaka set down fellow countryman Shohei Ohtani in the first of their three battles today. Ohtani was originally scheduled to oppose Tanaka on the mound today, but was scratched earlier in the week for “work maintenance.”

The Yankees threatened in the bottom of the first with Brett Gardner and Aaron Judge reaching to start the inning. However, Angels starter Garrett Richards retired the next three Yankees in order to keep the Bombers off the scoreboard. The second inning was also scoreless, but Greg Bird picked up his first hit of the season for the Yanks.

Tanaka retired the Angels without giving up a hit in the second and third innings before getting some support from his offense in the bottom of the third. After allowing a leadoff single to Aaron Judge, and a strikeout of Giancarlo Stanton, Garrett Richards imploded. He walked the next three Yankees, the third of which forced in a run, and his day was over. Jose Alvarez came in from the bullpen and proceeded to plunk Greg Bird, forcing in another run. Miguel Andujar then drove in the third run of the inning on a fielder’s choice ground out. All in all, the Yankees scored three runs on one hit.

Tanaka came out after the long layoff and struggled just a bit to start the inning. After yielding a leadoff single to Andrelton Simmons, Tanaka and Ohtani took center stage once again. This time Ohtani won the battle, earning a walk. Tanaka then responded by striking out Luis Valbuena and getting Ian Kinsler to ground into a double play to end the frame.
Photo Credit: Jim McIsaac/Getty Images
The next inning and a half went by smoothly with Alvarez and Ian Krol for the Angels, and Tanaka for the Yankees, firing three stress-free half-innings. After a slow, methodical start to the game, some pace and order were restored in these middle innings.

Tanaka came back out for the sixth inning and surrendered the only run he would on the afternoon, serving up a solo home run to Andrelton Simmons. Before hitting the showers, Tanaka and Ohtani dueled one last time. As he did in the first inning, Tanaka struck out Ohtani and finished his outing on a high note.

The Yankees offense, minus Brett Gardner, went down quietly over the last three innings of the game. On the day, Brett Gardner went 3-4 to raise his season batting average to .246. Gardner’s three hits represented 60% of the team’s total (5) today.

The win was finished off by a strong performance from the bullpen. First, the struggling David Robertson came on in the seventh and worked around a one-out single to keep the Angels at bay. Robertson still didn’t look very sharp, but any scoreless outing from him is a good sign these days.

Dellin Betances got the call in the eighth inning and surrendered a leadoff walk. This brought Mike Trout up as the tying run, but Betances got him to ground out. Trout was 0-4 on the afternoon. Following that, Andrelton Simmons grounded into a double play to end the inning.

The Yanks finally brought in their closer, Aroldis Chapman, to put the Angels to rest. Ohtani got on with a walk to start the inning, but Chapman, while erratic at times, retired the next three Angels to pick up his 11th save. With the win, the Yankees are now 33-16 on the season and sit one game behind the Red Sox in the American League East.

Box Score:

Winning Pitcher: Masahiro Tanaka (6-2, 4.62 ERA); 6.0 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 3 BB, 8 K
Losing Pitcher: Garrett Richards (4-4, 3.67 ERA); 2.1 IP, 3 H, 3 ER, 5BB, 3 K
Save: Aroldis Chapman (11)

RBI: Hicks (20), Bird (1), Andujar (18)
Notables: Gardner: 3-4, the Yankees did not have an extra-base-hit today

HR: Simmons (4)
RBI: Simmons (31)
Notables: Simmons: 2-4, Trout: 0-4

Looking Ahead:
The Yankees stay home and open a three-game series against the reigning World Series Champion Houston Astros. The series gets started tomorrow afternoon with a Memorial Day matinee from the Stadium. The scheduled starters are Domingo German (0-2, 5.59 ERA) for the Yankees and Justin Verlander (6-2, 1.08 ERA) for the Astros. First pitch is scheduled for 1:05pm on YES and ESPN.

Recap by: Jake Graziano


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