Sunday afternoon at Yankee Stadium began with the traditional Old-Timers’ game. With each hit, each strikeout and each introduction, the formerYankees stars earned thunderous applause.
It is not inconceivable to think that one day, Masahiro Tanaka will be one of those beloved former greats.
“I think the important thing is to become a very good player so I would be invited on such an occasion,” Tanaka said through an interpreter.
In the midst of a standout rookie season, Tanaka has been a very good player, but not even he can overcome a poor offensive showing from his team. Tanaka again pitched well but was outdueled by Orioles starter Chris Tillman, who pitched seven scoreless innings as the Yankees lost a second straight game to Baltimore, 8-0. Tanaka allowed three runs in seven innings but took his second loss of the season.
“He can’t score runs for us,” Brett Gardner said.
The Orioles pulled away with four runs in the eighth inning against reliever Adam Warren and added a run in the ninth inning against David Huff.
Stopping the Orioles’ offense was only half the Yankees’ problem. Other than Carlos Beltran’s game-ending three-run homer on Friday, the Yankees have had a poor offensive showing against the Orioles. They scored only two runs against Orioles starters in 172/3 innings.
For most of the game, it appeared that Gardner’s first-inning base-running gaffe would be the difference in the game. Leading off the inning, Gardner stroked a ball into the right-field corner. While Gardner raced around first base, Orioles right fielder Nick Markakis chased the ball and then threw to second baseman Jonathan Schoop. By the time the ball reached Schoop, Gardner had almost reached third base. Schoop threw to third baseman Manny Machado, who appeared to tag Gardner after he had reached the bag. Gardner was called safe.
The Yankees are now 12-3 when Tanaka pitches, and they go into his starts expecting to win. It is the same type of belief that old-timers like Ron Guidry and Whitey Ford, both of whom attended Sunday’s festivities, used to elicit when they took the mound. Perhaps someday, Tanaka will join them in Yankees lore.