ATLANTA – Masahiro Tanaka overcame a nightmarish start to go seven innings and pick up his 10th win of the season as the New York Yankees defeated the Atlanta Braves 15-4 on Friday evening.
Before 35,546 at Turner Field, Tanaka (10-6) allowed three runs on five hits and a walk, while striking out seven in a 100-pitch outing. After Nick Swisher’s sacrifice fly plated the Braves’ second run of the first inning, Tanaka got things sorted out. He retired 20 of the last 22 batters he faced.
The victory makes Tanaka the fourth Japanese pitcher to earn 10-plus wins in each of his first two MLB seasons.
“I’m glad to continue the work of those before me,” said Tanaka, who delivered his fifth straight quality start. “But my game is still far from where it should be. I’m not even close. I want to just keep going while I refine my game.
“It’s important to go out each time with the desire to hold the other team scoreless. If I give up a run, I then want to finish the game with just one allowed.”
Gifted a five-run lead and working on six days rest, Tanaka couldn’t execute early on, with his pitches lacking life, location or both and was lucky to allow just two runs. Tanaka fell behind in counts and the Braves took easy swings at fat pitches in the zone.
But with his lead trimmed to three, he began to settle down. Atlanta got its third hit of the inning, when Adonis Garcia hit a good 2-2 slider out of the zone. After a routine fly for the second out, a 1-2 splitter at the knees was driven by Jace Peterson to the warning track, where center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury made an impressive over-the-shoulder catch to save two runs.
The outfielder, who had been doubtful to start after hurting his right hip two days before, tumbled onto the track and crashed onto his hip.
“I didn’t want to slide on it. (But) when the ball’s in the air, you can’t be thinking about anything like that,” Ellsbury said. “In a situation like that you’re trying to make the play.
“I was laughing to myself because it’s the first inning and I’m already landing on it.”
That pitch was one of the few mistakes Tanaka made the rest of the way. After he struck out the side in the second, Freddie Freeman launched a low first-pitch fastball over the fence in center for a one-out homer in the third.
“They (my teammates) really bailed me out tonight,” Tanaka said of his teammate’s catches. I am in their debt.”
Yankees manager Joe Girardi gave his pitcher high marks for his overall effort.
“The first inning he struggled a little bit, he was a little uphill, and then he made the adjustment and gave us six good innings after that,” Girardi said. “I thought he threw the ball well, especially after the first inning.”
Didi Gregorius, who capped the first-inning beatdown of Atlanta’s Williams Perez (4-5) with a three-run home run, led the Yankees with six RBIs. Brian McCann, playing in his hometown against his longtime former team, scored three and drove in four, three on an eighth-inning home run. McCann, who got a loud ovation from the crowd when he came to bat in the first inning, got another for his home run.
“That was kind of neat,” Girardi said. “He played here a long time. He was a productive player. He was a leader. And the fans appreciated what he did.”
Red Sox 6, Mets 4 (10)
In New York, Blake Swihart hit an inside-the-park home run in the 10th inning and Boston stopped New York’s seven-game winning streak.
The NL East-leading Mets rallied in the bottom half when reliever Junichi Tazawa walked four straight batters with two outs to force home a run. Craig Breslow replaced Tazawa and retired Yoenis Cespedes on a fly ball with the bases loaded for his first save.
Diamondbacks 6, Athletics 4
In Phoenix, Ian Kennedy (8-12) gave up two runs and two hits in 6⅔ innings, and pinch hitter Aaron Hill doubled home the go-ahead run in the seventh inning.
Blue Jays 5, Tigers 3
In Toronto, Josh Donaldson and Troy Tulowitzki hit back-to-back homers, Jose Bautista also connected and the Blue Jays won for the eighth time in 10 games.
Rangers 4, Orioles 1
In Arlington, Texas, Cole Hamels delivered his best performance yet for the Rangers, striking out 10 in eight innings to beat Baltimore.
Twins 3, Astros 0
In Minneapolis, Eduardo Nunez homered and Kyle Gibson pitched 5⅔ scoreless innings to help Minnesota top Houston.
Royals 3, Rays 2
In St. Petersburg, Florida, Kendrys Morales hit his 15th homer, Edinson Volquez pitched into the seventh inning and AL Central-leading Kansas City beat Tampa Bay.
Indians 3, Angels 1
In Cleveland, Trevor Bauer, starting in place of an ill Danny Salazar, allowed one run in eight innings.
Mariners 2, White Sox 0
In Chicago, Kyle Seager and Franklin Gutierrez both had three hits and a homer and Taijuan Walker allowed three hits before leaving with an injury in the seventh inning as Seattle beat the White Sox.
Marlins 4, Nationals 3
In Washington, Martin Prado and Marcell Ozuna homered off Max Scherzer, and Miami beat the Nationals.
The Marlins’ Ichiro Suzuki finished 0-for-4.
Giants 5, Cardinals 4
In San Francisco, rookie Kelby Tomlinson lined a bases-loaded single up the middle with one out in the ninth against previously unbeaten Kevin Siegrist, and the Giants snapped St. Louis’ five-game winning streak.
Norichika Aoki finished 1-for-4 for San Francisco.
Dodgers 4, Cubs 1
In Los Angeles, Clayton Kershaw struck out a season high-tying 14 to win for the first time in three outings.
Pirates 5, Rockies 3
In Pittsburgh, pinch hitter Josh Harrison singled home Francisco Cervelli with the go-ahead run in the eighth inning and the Pittsburgh bullpen continued its hot streak in a win over Colorado.
Brewers 5, Reds 0
In Milwaukee, Taylor Jungmann pitched six strong innings and fellow rookie Domingo Santana homered to lead the Brewers.
Phillies 7, Padres 1
In Philadelphia, rookie Aaron Nola pitched seven strong innings and Cameron Rupp homered and drove in four runs, leading the Phillies past San Diego.
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