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Is this a little winning streak we’re seeing from the Yankees? It sure looks like it. The Yanks swept today’s doubleheader against the Baltimore Orioles winning Game 2 by the score of 10-1. It was a strong performance all the way around. The Yankees improved to 24-21. They are three games clear of Baltimore for the eighth playoff spot. Let’s get to the quick takeaways.

1. Tanaka is right on time: Despite that horrible 20 game stretch, the Yankees’ starting pitching hasn’t been all that bad. There were a few clunkers thrown in there but there have been strong performances from various members of the rotation. Under high stress situations, the starters largely kept the team in the games. A lot of the losses came down to offensive futility and/or bullpen implosions. Gerrit Cole threw his best start of his young Yankees career in Game 1. Masahiro Tanaka delivered a typical solid and steady start in Game 2.

Masa’s success hinges on his command. We know the great action of his splitter and slider. When he doesn’t have great command of those two offerings that pitch action is negated. Of course, that is true for all pitchers but a player like Tanaka relies heavily on his command because he doesn’t have the stuff to overcome mistakes. He was fighting his control early on. The second inning was a particular struggle. Fortunately, he made a couple of key pitches to wiggle out of a self-manufactured jam.

From that point forward, Tanaka was in full control of the game. He got into a rhythm and found his command. His swing and miss stuff improved as the game went on as well. He had fifteen swing and misses out of ninety-one total pitches. Tanaka also racked up five strikeouts through five innings. Outside of DJ Stewart’s home run, the Orioles weren’t able to put a lot of balls in play with authority. Here is Tanaka’s spray chart:

Outside of a few plays, Tanaka was dictating the type of contact the Orioles’ hitters were making. The plays in the outfield weren’t loud outs either. He used a strong pitch mix to keep Baltimore off-balanced. He finished his start retiring the last twelve batters he faced. Tanaka is awesome.

2. M-Voit-P: So, I am officially kicking off the Luke Voit MVP campaign. There are a few players throughout the league who have been getting MVP buzz and Voit isn’t on that list. It is high time for him to be amongst that group of candidates. Where would the Yankees be without Luke Voit? They would be in ninth or tenth place without him. He is currently hitting 285/.353/.629/.982 with 16 home runs and 36 RBIs. This is all happening while dealing with “foot stuff”.

This is one of Voit’s best performances as a Yankee. It may be his best. He hit two bombs in tonight’s game and here they are:

Voit went through a little tough spell over the last road trip but he has clearly snapped out of it. The power is obviously impressive but Voit is an elite hitter because he controls the zone so well. He has great plate coverage with power to all fields. Luke does a fantastic job of consistently putting the barrel on the ball in the zone and driving it with authority. He isn’t just a slugger with big power numbers. He can hit really well.

We may also see the emergence of a new leader on the team. After the second loss in Buffalo, Voit was incredibly candid about the team’s performance. He gave an honest evaluation and put the team on notice in his own way. That candor was refreshing especially in lieu of the manager’s canned positive platitudes. Voit backed his words up with a great performance. His value is rising both on and off the field. This may be one benefit of the injuries and the horrible twenty game stretch. There is an emerging voice on the team.

Leftovers:

  • This was a big day for the Yankees bullpen. All of the elite relievers were able to get another day off. Both Cole and Tanaka did their jobs in giving the team length in their starts. The pen should be good to go to attack the rest of the series.
  • Gleyber Torres is back to being Gleyber. He’s aggressive in the zone and driving the ball with authority. It couldn’t be coming at a better time. It is nice to see Voit get some help from another elite hitter.
  • Speaking of aggressiveness, the Yankees were noticeably frisky on the basebaths. While thrown out two times, Gardner was attempting to steal bases. DJLM was forcing the issue on the base paths in the first inning and stole a run. It is nice to see the team put pressure on their opponents. They need to keep this approach up. It is forcing teams to make mistakes and leads to easy runs. It also puts them in a more proactive state of mind to attach opponents throughout the game. This needs to continue.
  • The series continues tomorrow at 1pm. It will be Jordan Montgomery for the Yankees and Dean Kremer for Baltimore. The Yankees need some revenge on Kremer. Have a great night.