With all of the question marks swirling around their rotation, the Yankees are borderline desperate for Masahiro Tanaka to pitch like the ace they're paying him to be.
Of course, if they continue hitting like this, maybe it doesn't matter. They've scored 90 runs in their last 10 games.
Although Tanaka did not rediscover that form Tuesday night, he was good enough, but who wouldn't have been on this kind of night?
After a three-run sixth inning and nine-run seventh, Tanaka's outing was relegated to sidebar status in a 13-3 blasting of the Red Sox before a sellout crowd of 48,522 at the Stadium. The Yankees (60-45), winners of 16 of their last 22 games, remained 5½ games ahead of the streaking Blue Jays in the AL East.
"Obviously, this has been a pretty special streak,'' said Chase Headley, who went 2-for-5 with an RBI. "It's a lot of fun to be a part of.''
The Yankees had 13 hits, including three-run homers by Brian McCann and Chris Young in a remarkable seventh in which they sent 13 to the plate. Young had three hits and three RBIs, and McCann had two hits and four RBIs.
"That's just crazy,'' Young said of averaging nine runs the past 10 games. "Do you expect to do that every night? You'd love to, but it's not realistic. But it shows the potential we have if everybody's clicking at the same time.''
Tanaka (8-4, 3.84 ERA) was 3-2, 5.08 in his previous seven starts. He pitched better than those numbers, allowing three runs and five hits in six innings. He walked one and struck out three.
"The bottom line is we're winning games, however you win 'em, you win 'em,'' Joe Girardi said of his rotation issues. "That's the bottom line. Just keep doing it the way they're doing it, that's fine with me.''
Tanaka was a bit better than Henry Owens, a 6-6, 220-pound lefthander making his big-league debut. Owens lasted five innings, allowing three runs and five hits. After allowing a run in the first, he settled down.
The Red Sox (47-60) were up 2-1 in the sixth, but that lead did not last as the Yankees stormed back, knocking Owens from the game in taking a 4-2 lead.
After Pablo Sandoval homered to lead off the seventh, Girardi brought in lefthander Justin Wilson to face Mike Napoli. Wilson struck out Napoli but allowed a pinch-hit single to Rusney Castillo.
Blake Swihart fouled out and, with Jackie Bradley at the plate, the inning suddenly turned strange. Wilson bounced an 0-and-2 pitch, allowing Castillo to move into scoring position. Girardi brought in Dellin Betances, who inherited a 1-and-2 count and couldn't keep his curveball out of the dirt. His first pitch skipped past McCann for a wild pitch and Castillo went to third.
Betances walked Bradley and continued bouncing balls to Brock Holt, with McCann at one point needing to be checked out by trainer Steve Donohue after crouching awkwardly to stop one. Betances did strike Holt out to end the inning.
"I think it's odd because it's in the middle of an at-bat, but for him to bring in Dellin after me is not odd,'' Wilson said of the unusual switch. "Like I said, I never want to come out and felt like I could finish the inning, but it all worked out, and we won.''