Four batters into Tuesday night’s game, Masahiro Tanaka and the Yankees were down four runs to the Padres. That made the rest of the game a race — against the scoreboard and against Mother Nature.
With thunderstorms in the forecast, the Yankees had to stage a comeback before the heavy stuff started coming down. There was no guarantee this one was going to go the full nine, especially when rain started falling in the late innings in the Bronx.
The Yankees came close but ended up losing, 5-4, before an announced crowd of 37,028.
The game ended on a replay reversal. The replay umpires called DJ LeMahieu out at first to complete a game-ending 6-4-3 double play after he originally was called safe. If LeMahieu was out, it wasn’t by much, at least according to the replays that were shown on YES and in the ballpark. The review took 1:38.
LeMahieu said he thought he was safe, but added he hadn’t seen a replay. Yankees manager Aaron Boone said, “I thought it was the right call.”
Trailing 5-1, the Yankees scored three in the seventh and had the tying and go-ahead runs on base when Gary Sanchez, who homered earlier, hit a shallow fly ball to left to end the inning.
“Got that feeling that we’ve been getting lately that we’re going to come back and somehow find a way to win,” LeMahieu said. “Just fell a bit short there.”
In the ninth, Padres closer Kirby Yates worked around a leadoff single by Gio Urshela to earn his 21st save, the most in the majors. He hasn’t blown one yet. Yates was a Yankee in 2016 and pitched to a 5.23 ERA in 41 games. The Yankees waived him after the season.
The game opened ominously for the Yankees when LeMahieu booted Greg Garcia’s grounder to third for an error. Franmil Reyes singled and Manny Machado followed with a single to give the Padres a 1-0 lead.
Eric Hosmer then hit a three-run homer to center to put Tanaka into a 4-0 hole.
Tanaka (3-4) said he didn’t have his feel for his signature splitter all night. Asked when he knew that, Tanaka, through his translator, said: “For today, I think it was the home run to Hosmer in the first inning.”
Said Boone: “The split didn’t really do too much to Hosmer. He smoked it.”
Sanchez got the Yankees on the board with a solo shot to center in the fourth against lefthander Eric Lauer. It was his 17th home run.
The Padres made it 5-1 in the sixth on three consecutive one-out singles. The third was a bunt by Garcia that Tanaka fielded between the mound and first. But Luke Voit also went for the ball and ended up standing on the edge of the pitcher’s mound after Tanaka started, and stopped, a desperate attempt to beat Garcia to the bag.
Tanaka allowed nine hits, walked two, hit a batter and struck out seven in six innings (season-high 100 pitches). He was charged with five runs, four earned.
Lauer (4-4), the Padres’ Opening Day starter, was cruising until Voit and Aaron Hicks hit back-to-back singles with one out in the sixth. Andy Green brought in righthander Matt Wisler, who struck out Sanchez and got Gleyber Torres to fly to left to end the inning with the Padres still ahead by four.
In the seventh, as the rain started to scatter the fans and soak the players, Green used four new pitchers in a five-batter span, even though his team had a 5-1 lead for every pitching change. The Yankees plated three in the seventh on a two-run single by LeMahieu and run-scoring forceout by Hicks before Craig Stammen got Sanchez to end the threat.
“It was interesting,” Boone said. ”It was working out well for us there for a while. We were putting a rally on. But they had a plan and they had the matchups they wanted to create.”