Butler contributes right away for Yankees
Billy Butler did not waste any time to get into the swing of things in his first game for the Yankees. Less than two hours after arriving in Boston while the Yanks were taking batting practice, Butler hit a sacrifice fly in his first at-bat Thursday night.
Butler, who was released by the Athletics a week ago, was signed by the Yankees, who were in search for a right-handed hitter after rookie Aaron Judge had to be placed on the 15-day disabled list due to a strained right oblique. The Yanks have been vulnerable to left-handed pitching all season.
Butler, a designated hitter and first baseman, had his best years with the Royals and had a hard time of it in Oakland since signing a three-year contract as a free agent after the 2014 season. He recently got into a fight with A’s teammate Danny Valencia, which greased the skids for Butler in Oakland.
The Yankees faced a left-handed starter in Eduardo Rodriguez, who had been tough on them in the past but failed to get past the third inning Thursday night. The Yanks struck for two runs in the first on a single by Jacoby Ellsbury, a double by Gary Sachez, an RBI single by Starlin Castro and the sac fly by Butler.
They added two more runs in the third with Butler getting his second RBI on a single that followed a double by Castro, who rebounded from his costly error Wednesday against the Dodgers with a four-hit, two-RBI game at Fenway Park. A double by Didi Gregorius and a single by Chase Headley made the score 4-0 and chased Rodriguez, who entered the game with a 4-1 record and 1.88 ERA in his career against the Yankees and was 1-0 with a 1.29 ERA against them this year.
The multitude of early-inning runs were a blessing to Masahiro Tanaka, who navigated his way through the Red Sox batting order without his best stuff. For example, he walked two batters in the third inning, which was twice as many as he walked in the entire month of August. The Red Sox loaded the bases with one out that inning, but Tanaka limited the damage to a sacrifice fly by David Ortiz.
The Yankees nullified that run the next inning on a two-out, RBI single by Castro. Tanaka pitched seven innings but did not strike out a single batter. He did get 18 of his 21 outs in the infield, 15 of them on ground balls.