Tanaka tames Jays with 15 strikeouts
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.”
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.