Tanaka’s gem lifts Yan­kees over Rays

New York re­gains AL East lead with fifth straight win

The Maui News - - SPORTS - By BEN WALKER The As­so­ci­ated Press

NEW YORK — Now this was the dom­i­nant Masahiro Tanaka that the New York Yan­kees wanted to see.

Look­ing ev­ery bit like an ace, Tanaka took a per­fect game into the sixth in­ning and struck out a ca­reer-high 14 as the Yan­kees beat the Tampa Bay Rays 6-1 on Fri­day for their fifth straight win.

Boosted by three home runs, Tanaka and the Yan­kees had even more to show for their ef­fort — they moved back into first place in the Amer­i­can League East for the first time in a month, edg­ing ahead of the Bos­ton Red Sox, who have lost five of six.

“Just to see him deal­ing like that is en­cour­ag­ing,” man­ager Joe Gi­rardi said. “You want to get him on a roll.”

Tanaka (8-9) struck out the first five bat­ters, all on swings, and also fanned the side in the eighth to end his out­ing.

The Ja­panese star was win­less in his past three starts, and has been plagued by in­con­sis­tency most of the year. That came af­ter he went a com­bined 39-16 in his first three sea­sons his AL-lead­ing 33rd homer and Clint Fra­zier added a three­run shot.

On Thurs­day, Gard­ner won the opener of this four-game set be­tween play­off con­tenders with a homer in the 11th. Judge wound up los­ing half of his front left tooth in the cel­e­bra­tion — he got a tem­po­rary fix ear­lier in the day.

Tanaka set down 17 in a row be­fore Adeiny Hechavar­ria grounded a sharp, two-out sin­gle up the mid­dle, past div­ing short­stop Didi Gre­go­rius. Tanaka im­pas­sively watched the ball roll into cen­ter field and, af­ter a brief ova­tion from the fans, went back to work.

“Right out of the gate, he went his split, his cut­ter, his slider. Kept of us off-bal­ance, racked up a ton of strike­outs,” Rays man­ager Kevin Cash said. “From the side there didn’t ap­pear to be many pitches that guys could han­dle.”

Tanaka al­lowed two hits and walked none.

Lu­cas Duda home­red in the sev­enth, a day af­ter Tampa Bay got him a trade with the New York Mets.

Austin Pruitt (5-2), called up from Triple-A to take the turn of in­jured Jake Odorizzi, gave up all three homers in five in­nings. The Rays have lost seven of nine and are 0-5 in the Bronx this year.

AP photo

Yan­kees starter Masahiro Tanaka pitches in the fourth in­ning of New York’s 6-1 win over Tampa Bay on Fri­day

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