Tanaka silences Jays’ bats as Yankees extend AL East lead
With key relievers Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller both unavailable, the New York Yankees were counting on a solid outing from starter Masahiro Tanaka.
He gave them that, and kept right on going.
Tanaka pitched a five-hitter for his first complete game in more than a year, leading the Yankees over the Toronto Blue Jays 4-1 on Saturday.
"Just an unbelievable job by Masahiro," manager Joe Girardi said.
The Yankees won their third straight following a five-game skid and extended their AL East lead over Toronto to 1 1/2 games. The Blue Jays, coming off an 11-game winning streak, lost for the second day in a row to New York.
Carlos Beltran, who hit a big home run Friday night at Rogers Centre, and Mark Teixeira connected for solo shots to back Tanaka (9-5).
"We’re happy," Beltran said. "They went to our home (last weekend) and they took three out of three. Right now we have the opportunity to do that."
Pitching in Toronto for the first time since his big league debut in April 2014, Tanaka struck out eight and walked three while helping the Yankees’ taxed bullpen.
"My mindset was I wanted to go as deep into the game as possible," Tanaka said through a translator. "I’m just really satisfied that I was able to do that."
Toronto loaded the bases with nobody out in the fifth but managed to score only one run on Josh Donaldson’s sacrifice fly. Tanaka escaped by striking out Jose Bautista and getting Edwin Encarnacion to pop up.
"That was the key to the game," Girardi said. "For him to go through those hitters and only give up the one run was really impressive."
Teixeira, who started at DH, spent much of the afternoon watching Tanaka from a unique perspective.
"His ball was moving so much," Teixeira said. "I got to watch a lot of the game on TV in the clubhouse and see the ball move on TV, which just shows how much it’s actually moving."
Marco Estrada (10-7) lost for the first time in four starts, allowing two runs and three hits in six innings. Blue Jays starting pitchers have given up three earned runs or fewer in 19 consecutive starts, eclipsing the team record set in May 1991.
"I guess the line looks pretty good, but I missed a lot of spots," Estrada said. "I wasn’t my usual self."
Toronto hadn’t dropped back-to-back games since losing at Seattle on July 26 and at home to Philadelphia on July 28.
"It would be nice to pick one up on the last game of the homestand tomorrow," manager John Gibbons said.
Beltran, whose pinch-hit, three-run drive in the eighth inning Friday night gave the Yankees a 4-3 win, homered for the second straight at-bat when he connected in the first.
After Toronto tied it in the fifth, Teixeira hit a go-ahead homer with two outs in the sixth, his 31st.
"Once I hit that home run, I had a feeling (Tanaka) was going to keep it up," Teixeira said.
New York made it 3-1 against LaTroy Hawkins in the eighth. Beltran doubled off the right field wall and Teixeira lined an RBI single to left.
Jacoby Ellsbury’s RBI single off Aaron Loup in the ninth gave the Yankees a three-run cushion.
BIG HIT FOR BIRD
Yankees prospect Greg Bird singled in the eighth for his first major-league hit. It came off Hawkins, who was drafted in 1991, one year before Bird was born.
REST FOR ROTATION
With an off day Monday, RHP R.A. Dickey and LHP Mark Buehrle will each get an extra day of rest before their starts at Philadelphia on Tuesday and Wednesday. Toronto is also off Thursday, meaning LHP David Price will get six days of rest before his next start, Friday at Los Angeles against the Angels. Including the two next week, Toronto has six off days between now and the end of the season.
Yankees: Struggling DH Alex Rodriguez, in a 2-for-19 slump, got the day off. … RHP Ivan Nova, who was hit on the right ring finger by an infield chopper Friday, is expected to make his next start.
Yankees: RHP Luis Severino (0-1, 2.45 ERA) will make his third career start Sunday. The rookie has received just one run of support in his two starts so far.
Blue Jays: RHP Drew Hutchison (11-2, 5.26 ERA) looks to win his fourth straight decision when he faces the Yankees Sunday. Hutchison pitched seven innings to beat Oakland on Tuesday, his longest outing since a complete game on May 25.