Masahiro Tanaka nearly pitched a complete game shutout, but Robinson Cano hit a two-run homer (his first at Safeco Field this season) with one out in the ninth to make the score 4-2. He ended up striking out Kyle Seager and Logan Morrison to end the game and record his 10th win of the season.
The 25-year-old rookie from Japan, who has only one loss, leads the American League with his 2.02 ERA and 0.94 WHIP and is in fourth place in the AL with his 103 strikeouts. He tied Mark Buehrle for first in the AL with 10 wins as a result of winning his fourth consecutive start. He struck out 11 Mariners and only walked one, which improved his outstanding strikeout to walk ratio to 103 to 14. As a result of all of his pitches working for him he was able to not allow a Mariner to reach third until the eighth and strike out the side in the sixth inning.
“The bottom line is that I was able to make pretty much all of my pitches today, so that got me deep into the game,” Tanaka said. His splitter was working to perfection and that helped him record six swinging strikeouts through the first five innings.
Mark Teixeira’s three-run homer that drove in Brett Gardner and Jacoby Ellsbury in the fifth inning made the score 4-0 and ended up being the difference in the game. Teixeira currently leads the team in homers (11) and RBIs (30). His 17th career homer at Safeco Park just barely cleared the wall in right center. Ellsbury, who has improved his average from .273 to .290 since the game on June 3, is on a 15-game hitting streak. He has six multi-hit games in that span, and has three doubles, one homer, seven steals and 10 RBIs since the streak started on May 26.
Derek Jeter was one of three Yankees who had two hits, the others were Ellsbury and Gardner, and had a multi-hit game for the second day in a row. Playing in Seattle has helped him break the slump he has been in as he had not had more than a hit in a game since May 31 against the Twins. His two steals during the game pushed him over the 350 steal plateau, and according to Jeff Quagliata, he is now the third player in MLB history to have 3,000 or more hits, 350 or more steals and 250 or more homers. Craig Biggio and Rickey Henderson are the two others who accomplished this feat.
The Yankees scored their first run of the game on an Ellsbury single to center that drove in Roberts in the third inning. Roberts has an unimpressive .237 average this season. It is possible that Rob Refsnyder, who just got called up to Triple-A Scranton after hitting .342 and six homers at Trenton, could replace the veteran Roberts if Refsnyder continues to dominate at AAA.
Tanaka’s transition to playing baseball in the United States has been smoother than anyone expected. Tanaka, who was 24-0 last season in Japan and is 10-1 this season, is basically dominating Major League Baseball hitters the same way that he owned the Nippon Professional Baseball league. He is a lock to be an All-Star in his first season and it seems like he will finish in the top five in Cy Young voting in his first season. He was very modest to Meredith Marakovits after the game in assessing his performance this season, which proves how much he expects perfection.
“I have been doing OK, but it is a team effort, and I am really happy about today’s win,” Tanaka said. The Yankees hope that he will be “OK” the rest of the season since he has pitched better than basically everyone else in the American League, and the Yankees would be many game below .500 without him.
In the series finale at 10:10 PM EST, Chase Whitley will pitch for the Yankees. Whitley, who has a 2.42 ERA in five starts (26 innings), while having 18 strikeouts to only three walks, has given the Yankees more than they could have expected while filing in for CC Sabathia. He has one win, but the team is 4-1 in games that he has started.
Roenis Elias, who has 70 strikeouts and a 3.64 ERA, will get the start for the Mariners. Elias struggles more in night games as he has a 3.90 ERA in night games and a 2.91 ERA in day games.
The Yankees will look to push their winning streak to three before heading down the west coast to Oakland for a three-game series.