Teixeira’s 18th homer only support for Tanaka
Masahiro Tanaka’s strong work since coming off the disabled list earlier this month continued Monday night in the Yankees’ first appearance at Miami’s Marlins Park in the opener of a home-and-away, four-game, inter-league series.
The previous two seasons, the Yankees had such series against the Mets, but that meant the two teams merely had to cross the East River after two games. This two-and-two with the Marlins has the two teams traveling all the way down and up the Eastern seaboard, another example of empty-headed scheduling.
For all of Tanaka’s sound pitching Friday night, he was done in by one pitch — a 2-0 fastball that Derek Dietrich drove to right field for his first home run of the season that unlocked a 1-1 score in the seventh inning. It held up for a 2-1 Miami victory that knocked the Yankees out of first place in the American League East to the other Florida club, the Rays, 6-1 winners over the Nationals. The Yankees had at least a share of first place for 20 straight days since May 26.
Tanaka pitched seven innings and allowed nine hits, which were pretty much scattered. He did not walk a batter and struck out six. Unfortunately, the Yankees mustered next to no offense against native New Yorker Tom Koehler other than Mark Teixeira’s 18th home run of the season, leading off the second inning.
Miami came right back against Tanaka in the bottom of the second. Dietrich, the third baseman who was recalled from Triple A New Orleans three days ago with regular Martin Prado ailing (right shoulder sprain), doubled to left with one out and scored on a single to left by Adeiny Hechavarria.
The second is a pivotal inning for the Yankees. They are 18-5 (.783) when leading after two innings and 16-24 (.400) when tied or trailing at the conclusion of the second.
Koehler also pitched seven innings and other than the Teixeira homer allowed only two other hits, both by Didi Gregorius, a single and a double. Alex Rodriguez, back in his home town, got to bat as a pinch hitter with two out in the ninth and a runner on first base but flied out to right to end the game.
The losing decision was Tanaka’s first since opening day April 6 and ended a personal four-game winning streak. In three starts since coming off the DL, the righthander is 2-1 with a 1.29 ERA in 21 innings in which he has allowed 17 hits, including four homers, with no walks and 21 strikeouts. Over his past five starts, Tanaka is 3-1 with a 2.10 ERA in 34 1/3 innings with two walks and 35 strikeouts.
The other pitching highlight of the night for the Yankees was the relief effort of Sergio Santos in the eighth inning after Jose Ramirez had loaded the bases with none out on a hit, a hit batter and a walk. Santos kept the Marlins from breaking the game open at that point with strikeouts of J.T. Realmuto and pinch hitter Marcell Ozuna and retiring Hechevarria on a fly ball to shallow right field.
The Yankees put the potential tying run on base in the ninth against Marlins closer A.J. Ramos when Brian McCann walked and was lifted for pitch runner Brendan Ryan, but Teixiera and Garrett Jones struck out before A-Rod’s lone time at the plate.
Tuesday night’s game at Marlins Park will be a matchup of pitchers traded for each other in the off-season: Nathan Eovaldi for the Yankees and David Phelps for the Marlins. Prado and Jones also were in that exchange. Ivan Nova will not return to the Yankees’ rotation this week. The club wants the righthander to make one more minor-league start on injury rehabilitation before considering returning him to the rotation.