Swisher hurts old club with homer off Tanaka
The Yankees’ rotation got a pleasant jolt Monday night when Triple A Scranton call-up Shane Greene pitched six strong innings for his first major-league victory and earned another start, which he will make Saturday at Baltimore with Chase Whitley moving to a spot in the bullpen.
The rotation got a different sort of jolt Tuesday night as Masahiro Tanaka got beat up. Oh, he wasn’t completely battered, but the Japanese righthander has been so impressive in the first portion of the 2014 season that it was stunning to watch him blow a two-run lead in the middle innings and finish after 6 2/3 innings with five earned runs and 10 hits allowed, both season highs, or lows as the case may be.
Just as they had for Greene the night before, the Yankees broke out to an early lead against the Indians, who helped matters along with some shabby defense. The Tribe made three errors in the first five innings, including a wild throw to second base by catcher Yon Gomes on a double steal that allowed Jacoby Ellsbury to score the second run of the first inning. Mark Teixeira, who drove in the first run with a single, got his first stolen base of the season on the back end of the twin swipe.
The teams exchanged runs over the next inning before Tanaka seemed to settle in. His splitter got him five strikeouts into the fourth inning, but he seemed to abandon it in favor of his slider. A hanger to Nick Swisher proved especially costly as the former Yankees outfielder crushed it for a two-run home run, his second homer in two nights, that put the Indians ahead in the sixth.
Tanaka had even more problems with Michael Brantley, who doubled in a run in the first inning, doubled in another with two out in the fifth and bashed his 14th homer in the seventh. The two will be American League teammates in next week’s All-Star Game. I wonder if Tanaka will shake Brantley’s hand.
It marked the second straight game that Tanaka gave up four or more runs, although he won that previous start. What made this game interesting is that usually Tanaka dominates the first time he faces a club. This was Cleveland’s first look at Tanaka, and the Tribe obviously took the correct approach.
It did not help Tanaka one bit that the Yankees could not pad on their 2-0 and 3-1 leads. They did not get a hit after the third inning as Indians starter Trevor Bauer pitched four scoreless innings and relievers Bryan Shaw and Corey Allen added one apiece. The last 13 Yankees batters in the game were retired, five on strikeouts.
Ellsbury made a rare base-running blunder in the fifth when he was thrown out trying to steal third base with a left-handed batter, Brian McCann, at the plate with two out. Making the third out on such an attempt is a cardinal sin but was overlooked at the time because the Yankees had a two-run lead. But not for long.
Newcomer Brandon McCarthy will make his first start for the Yankees Wednesday night at Progressive Field. Ready for another jolt?