Masahiro Tanaka pitches a simulated game, on track to pitch in September

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Masahiro Tanaka pitched a simulated game this morning. He tossed 49 pitches and, according to those who watched it, he utilized his entire repertoire of pitches, splitter included. His command was a bit rusty, but afterwards, the Yankees manager waxed optimistic:

At the moment the Yankees are six games behind the Orioles in the AL East but only two and a half back of the Mariners, who sit in the second wild card slot. Between them: the Tigers. So, yes, having Tanaka back would be a pretty big deal.

Watch: George Springer robs Todd Frazier with an incredible catch at the wall

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Perhaps there are a few who still miss the slope of Tal’s Hill rising from center field, but George Springer isn’t one of them. He lassoed a 403-foot fly ball from Todd Frazier in the seventh inning of Game 6, reaching nearly to the top of the wall to prevent the Yankees from gaining on the Astros’ 3-0 lead.

According to Statcast, a fly ball with an exit velocity of 103.6 MPH and a launch angle of 29 degrees lands for a home run 72% of the time. That wasn’t going to fly with the Astros, who were facing runners on first and second with one out and saw Justin Verlander‘s pitch count rapidly approaching 100.

It wasn’t long before the Yankees tried for another home run, however, and this one sailed far above the heads of all of the Astros’ outfielders. Aaron Judge lofted a 425-foot shot to left field in the eighth inning, destroying a first-pitch fastball from Brad Peacock and finally getting New York on the board.

The Yankees currently trail the Astros 4-1 in the bottom of the eighth.