Blustery Battle

Bronx, N.Y., May 27, 2017; Yankees 3, Anaheim 1 — The Yankees collected just five singles Sunday afternoon, only two not stroked by leadoff hitter Brett Gardner, whose three safeties did not figure in the scoring. But they turned Aaron Judge’s single leading off the home third, and Angels starter Garrett Richards’s wildness, into a three-run rally that carried the day. The superb Masahiro Tanaka triumphed in this one because he did the best job of coping with the difficult weather, tough on both players and spectators alike.

Tanaka threw a solid six innings, striking out eight while surrendering just three hits and three walks. His control was remarkable given the conditions. Mixing an array of “touch” pitches with an occasional 93-mph fastball, he threw 60 of 104 pitches for strikes, and gave up the three free passes to 23 batters; his counterpart walked five of 15. And Garrett Richards did so in bunches. He sneaked a 1-2 fastball past Giancarlo Stanton for a punch out following Aaron Judge’s first-pitch, third-inning single, but then amid two wild pitches he walked three straight, the last resulting in the game’s first run. Lefty reliever Jose Alvarez came on with the bases still loaded, but he plunked Greg Bird with his fourth toss, then a fielder’s choice grounder from Miguel Andujar had the Yanks up 3-0.

Alvarez would strike out the side in the fourth, and neither pen would allow a run the rest of the way. All the pitchers, it’s fair to say, were both helped and hurt by the blustery conditions. Home run bids by Mike Trout early and by both Luis Valbuena and Bird later died in the driving wind toward the infield, and although Gary Sanchez’s midgame liner had plenty of carry, it was diverted just left of the foul pole. On the other hand, myriad pop-ups and flies toward right were blown well into the stands, giving batters second chances they rarely were able to cash in. Remarkably, Andrelton Simmons was able to loft to a blast to left against Tanaka in the sixth to close the score to 3-1. It must have been timed just right during a rare lull, as two batters later right fielder Stanton backed toward the wall, only to have to run in and dive to catch Valbuena’s shot that the wind swatted away with ease.

David Robertson, Dellin Betances, and Aroldis Chapman successfully finished up for the Yanks, each allowing a baserunner in their inning (single, walk, walk). Tanaka combined five ground-ball outs with his eight punch outs; the troika that followed retired six of nine the same way, including a nifty 6-3 turned in by Didi Gregorius on a base hit bid by catcher Martin Maldonado to end the game.

There is no evidence that Irish-born rear admiral Francis Beaufort, the creator of the Beaufort Scale for indicating wind force, who would have celebrated his 244th birthday this day, was a baseball — or even cricket, for that matter — fan. But perhaps, given his years at sea, weathering storms of terrifying force and offering a rational look at those forces, he might have appreciated Masahiro Tanaka’s fine work in the Sunday win. Sitting up top behind home plate with that unrelenting wind in my face for three-plus hours, I tip my cap to the Yankee righty for his work in this,

A Blustery Battle