Homers back dominant Tanaka as Yankees keep winning

Masahiro Tanaka continued his stellar pitching Saturday, as he gave up only run and struck out 10 through seven and a third innings. His offense did enough to get him the W, as the Bombers won their seventh straight game. The Yankees ace had a sharp fastball and great command of his off-speed and breaking pitches, fooling several of the Tampa Bay batters.  Tanaka improved his record this season to 13-4 while dropping his ERA to 3.04. The Yankees are now a season-best 12 games over .500 and sit just three games back of the American League East lead.

(Kathy Willens, AP)

Through five innings, Chris Archer was matching zeroes with Tanaka as the game remained scoreless. In the sixth, Brett Gardner led off the frame with a line drive single to center. The next batter was Jacoby Ellsbury, and he smashed a 2-1 heater into the right field seats to break the scoreless tie and give the Yankees a 2-0 lead. Just three pitches later, rookie sensation Gary Sanchez clobbered one into the left-center bullpen. The back-to-back homers gave the Yankees a 3-0 cushion. In the eighth, Sanchez and Didi Gregorius each hit a sac fly for runs four and five, which would prove to be all the scoring necessary to back the pitching staff.

The first real test Tanaka faced was in the sixth inning. After a leadoff double and a sacrifice bunt, the Rays had the go-ahead run at third base. Tanaka buckled down, as the next two batters lined out to right field and then grounded to first. In the eighth, he allowed a one-out home run, followed by a hit by pitch. Girardi wasn’t taking any chances, as he pulled Tanaka. He left to a standing ovation from the Yankee Stadium faithful.

The Yankees now find themselves just three games behind Boston for the division lead, and have a huge four game series with them next weekend. They are also knocking on the door of the second wild card spot, as they sit just one game out. They are also only two out of the first wild card, as this team continues their magical run toward an improbable postseason berth.

What’s Next?

The Yankees go for the four-game sweep of Tampa Bay tomorrow afternoon at Yankee Stadium. New York will pitch Luis Cessa (4-0, 4.07 ERA). The Rays will counter with Matt Andriese (6-7, 4.58 ERA). First pitch is scheduled for 1:05 PM ET and the game will air on the YES Network

Article by: Dan DeGregorio
Follow me on Twitter: @dandegregs
Follow the BBB: @bronxbomberblog

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