Tanaka tames Jays with 15 strike­outs

Waterloo Region Record - - SPORTS - Ron­ald Blum

Masahiro Tanaka walked off the mound and tipped his cap to fans af­ter one of his most dom­i­nant per­for­mances since sign­ing with the New York Yan­kees in Jan­uary 2014.

He struck out 15 over seven in­nings, his high­est to­tal since ar­riv­ing in Ma­jor League Baseball, al­lowed three hits and walked none to lead the play­off-bound New York Yan­kees over the Toronto Blue Jays, 4-0, on Fri­day af­ter­noon and keep New York on the edge of con­tention in the Amer­i­can League East. If only ev­ery start was like this. “It’s pretty ob­vi­ous that there was a lot of ups and downs this sea­son,” he said through a trans­la­tor. “I un­der­stand what I’ve done wrong and all that, but I’m not re­ally open to share that at this time.”

Tanaka (13-12) had five out­ings in which he gave up seven or eight runs, but also had eight in which he al­lowed one run or none. He fin­ished with a 4.74 ERA and yielded 35 homers — 10 more than his pre­vi­ous ma­jor league high.

“I knew that I needed to be ag­gres­sive,” he said. “Maybe I was lack­ing it a lit­tle bit.”

Al­ready as­sured no worse than host­ing a wild-card game against Min­nesota, New York be­gan the day three games be­hind AL East-lead­ing Bos­ton with three games left. The Yan­kees could take the di­vi­sion only by beat­ing the Jays Satur­day and Sunday, hav­ing Bos­ton lose three in a row to Hous­ton and then de­feat­ing the Red Sox in a tiebreaker game Mon­day at Yan­kee Sta­dium.

New York ace Luis Sev­erino could start against Bos­ton or Min­nesota.

Tanaka re­tired his first 14 bat­ters be­fore Eze­quiel Car­erra reached on an in­field sin­gle up the mid­dle just past Tanaka’s glove. Sec­ond base­man Star­lin Cas­tro made a back­hand stop with a dive and threw off­bal­ance from his knees, but Car­erra eas­ily beat a one-hop throw.

Pitch­ing on six days’ rest, Tanaka dom­i­nated a team that bat­tered him for eight runs and three homers at Toronto on Sept. 22. He al­lowed three hits and walked none.

Tanaka’s strike­out to­tal was three shy of his pro­fes­sional big league high, set for the To­hoku Rakuten Golden Ea­gles against the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks in Ja­pan’s Pa­cific League on Aug. 27, 2011.

New York reached 90 wins for the first time since 2012.

Aaron Judge sin­gled in a run in the fifth for his 113th RBI. He had gri­maced af­ter land­ing on first awk­wardly on a third-in­ning ground­out.

“We had some con­cern,” man­ager Joe Gi­rardi said.

“It ended up be­ing noth­ing.”

JULIE JA­COB­SON, THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Yan­kees pitcher Masahiro Tanaka was on top of the Toronto Blue Jays all af­ter­noon Fri­day in New York. Tanaka struck out 15 bat­ters in seven in­nings in a 4-0 vic­tory.

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