Tanaka strikes out 11, but Yankees bullpen gets win vs. Angels
It has been 20 months since Masahiro Tanaka lost a regular-season game — in any country.
Garrett Richards and the Los Angeles Angels had a chance to end that streak until Mark Teixeira found his power stroke from the left side of the plate.
Teixeira hit a tying homer and Jacoby Ellsbury scored the go-ahead run thanks to a passed ball and wild pitch in the eighth inning, sending the New York Yankees to a 3-2 victory Sunday night.
Tanaka struck out a season-high 11, including Mike Trout twice, and overcame an early bout of wildness in a tight pitchers’ duel with Richards. Neither starter received a decision, leaving both undefeated this year.
"Tanaka had it going," Yankees catcher Brian McCann said. "It was a good team win."
David Robertson struck out pinch-hitter Raul Ibanez with a runner on second to end it, and New York has won 10 of 14 after taking two of three in the series.
David Freese homered for the Angels, who went 4-5 on a tough road trip to Detroit, Washington and New York.
Tanaka walked four in 6-1/3 innings against the Angels, who began the day leading the majors in homers. The $155 million rookie was on the hook for his first regular-season loss since August 2012 in Japan until Teixeira homered leading off the seventh.
"Obviously, I was really happy that the score was tied," Tanaka said through a translator. "I was hoping that our offense could come back and put us back in the game."
New York broke the tie without a hit in the eighth, a rough inning for Angels catcher Chris Iannetta.
With the score 2-all, Michael Kohn (1-1) walked Ellsbury and Carlos Beltran. Nick Maronde relieved, and both runners advanced on Iannetta’s passed ball.
"It was a fastball right there, and I just missed it," Iannetta said. "One of the dumbest plays I’ve made in my career — or not made."
McCann barely stayed alive with a couple of foul tips, and Maronde bounced a breaking ball in front of the plate. The ball ricocheted off Iannetta and far enough away for Ellsbury to score easily.
Adam Warren (1-1) fanned two in 1-2/3 scoreless innings. Robertson worked the ninth for his fourth save and second in two days, whiffing Ibanez seconds before security workers tackled a fan who ran into the outfield.
New York managed only three hits, winning a game with three or fewer for the first time since July 7, 2006, at Tampa Bay.
Tanaka had the most strikeouts by a Yankees rookie since Orlando "El Duque" Hernandez whiffed 13 Texas Rangers on Aug. 13, 1998. The team said his 46 strikeouts this season are the third-most since 1900 for a major league pitcher in his first five career starts, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. Herb Score (50) and Stephen Strasburg (48) were the only ones with more.
Tanaka is 31-0 combined in Japan and the United States over his past 39 regular-season starts. He did lose Game 6 of the Japan Series last year — before earning a save in Game 7.
"First and foremost, I want to win the ballgame. But it would’ve been nice to give him his first loss," Richards said.
Richards took a two-hitter and a 2-1 lead into the seventh, when Teixeira launched a 2-2 pitch into the second deck in right field for his second home run since returning from the disabled list last Sunday.
It was Teixeira’s first homer while batting left-handed since June 6, 2013. His season ended nine days later because of a right wrist injury that required surgery.
"That’s my swing when I’m healthy. That’s the swing that I want," Teixeira said. "It’s a good sign that I start seeing results."
Freese sent Tanaka’s first pitch of the sixth to right-center for his second home run with the Angels since they acquired him from St. Louis in a November trade.
Tanaka had an amazing ratio of 35 strikeouts to two walks in his first four starts, which covered 29-1/3 innings. But he struggled with his command early on this 54-degree night, walking a batter in each of the first four innings.
Albert Pujols even stared out at the mound after Tanaka backed him off the plate with two straight pitches in the third.
The walks caught up with Tanaka in the fourth, when Erick Aybar led off with a double and scored on an RBI groundout by J.B. Shuck with the bases loaded.
New York tied it in the fifth. A leadoff walk to Teixeira and Brian Roberts’ one-out double set up Ichiro Suzuki’s run-scoring groundout against Richards.
"Garrett was terrific. He had explosive stuff," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "I think both pitchers went toe to toe. We just couldn’t get it done late."
NOTES: The Angels have led in 10 of their 13 losses. . . . A test on INF Yangervis Solarte’s sore right shoulder showed no damage, New York manager Joe Girardi said. . . . The Yankees are off Monday before Robinson Cano returns to New York with the Seattle Mariners on Tuesday night.