Tanaka return and countdown for Jeter with a Yankees win
By Rich Mancuso
BRONX, NEW YORK, SEPTEMBER 22- Most of the sold out crowd at Yankee Stadium Sunday afternoon cheered and waited for Derek Jeter to leave the field after the New York Yankees 5-2 win over the Toronto Blue Jays. And it was loud cheers most of the afternoon in the Bronx as the Yankees and their fans say goodbye to their captain this week.
There were also cheers for the starting pitcher Masahiro Tanaka, one of the Yankees major investments during the off-season. He showed no effects of his right elbow inflammation that put him on the shelf for more than two months, and perhaps that is good news for a team that in a matter of days will be eliminated from the post season a second consecutive year,
But as they Yankees finish up their home schedule this week, the emphasis will continue to be about Derek Jeter. Tanaka, with 5.1 innings gave up an earned run on five hits. The right-hander struck out four and will get another start up in Boston next weekend when the Yankees finish up their season.
Jeter is not in the plans next year, as much as it appears to be setting in that seven more games remain in his illustrious career. But a healthy Tanaka in 2015 is what the Yankees hope for, assuming there are no further complications with the elbow and Tommy John Surgery is not necessary.
“I thought if something was to happen, in my mind, you’d see it on a pitch, not necessarily the next day,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said about Tanaka. “But still, we got through today, so let’s get through tomorrow."
And tomorrow night the Yankees will attempt to keep those slim playoff hopes alive against the AL division champion Orioles. A magic number of four will spell the end to next year and planning with a hopeful and healthy Tanaka, Jacoby Ellsbury, Carlos Beltran and Mark Teixeira.
“I don’t feel different,” Jeter said about these being his last days unless the Yankees can pull off a miracle.”Well aware its winding down and constantly reminded of it. Play as hard as I can, as I said before and still trying to win games.”
Jeter went 2-for-4 and had a season tying four straight multi-hit game. He may be seeing the ball better than he did all season, though Girardi said the day off Monday also helped the soon to be captain.
In four games on the homestand, Jeter is 8-for-17 with three runs, two doubles, a home run and three runs batted in.
Tanaka had the same split, slider, and control before he went on the disabled list July 8th. “Overall satisfied,” he said. “I wanted to check to see how well my elbow would respond... in that sense I was thinking about it.”
Again, a healthy Tanaka is what the Yankees will need next year. There is no certainty about CC Sabathia returning to form and providing 150 innings.The Yankees offense, with a makeship lineup minus Beltran, Ellsbury and Teixeira hit their stride Sunday, and that got some cheers with three home runs, two from Brian McCann and a solo from Brett Gardner.
But it was about Jeter who poked the ball well during the four-game series with the Blue Jays and the Yankees scored 16-runs, a contrast to not getting runs home since April.
“They’ve done it periods of the year they just have not been consistent,” Girardi said about his offense. “Look at it two ways. You are upset about it but they are still fighting.” Meaning, there is no quit with the realization scoreboard watching will soon mean elimination and on to next season.
“Timely hitting, pitching, playing good baseball, that’s what we did,” commented McCann who hit his team leading 22nd home run.
But the overall consensus was, another of the farewell Derek Jeter days in the Bronx. He has made things happen for the Yankees over the years and there will be someone different manning shortstop.
“The game is going to miss him,” said Toronto manager John Gibbons.
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