Wednesday afternoon was the day that New York Yankees fans had been hoping for since Masahiro Tanaka went to the DL with a slight tear in the UCL of his throwing elbow. The Yankees, along with Tanaka, were glad that he could avoid Tommy John surgery and return to the ball club. In Seattle on Wednesday, #TanakaTime was in full force as they Yankees finished off a sweep of the Mariners with a 3-1 win.
In his return to the mound, Tanaka was on his game from the start. He struck out the first batter he faced and continued to dominate. All of his pitches were working for him and he kept the Mariners’ offense off balance all game long. It wasn’t until the third inning that the Mariners batter reached base and eventually scored. From the end of the third until he exited the game after seven innings because of a pitch count, Tanaka did not allow a baserunner.
In seven innings of work, Tanaka gave up just one run on three hits and struck out nine in the process. Aside from the third inning, he was perfect. His fastball velocity was in the mid-to-upper 90s, and his offspeed pitches were again deadly as he had multiple called third strikes.
The Mariners also got a good outing from Taijuan Walker as he has looked very good. Walker has lasted eight innings in his last two starts. Today he went eight innings giving up three runs on five hits while striking out seven and walking just one. This is a very encouraging sign for Seattle as he could potentially be putting his early season struggles behind him.
It wasn’t much of an offensive battle at all at Safeco Field on Wednesday afternoon as both teams tallied just five hits each, but the Yankees made the most of their five hits as they scored their runs on the backs of a solo home run by Mark Teixeira in the second and a two-run homer by Garrett Jones in the fourth, which was his second in two days.
The Mariners could not have been unluckier to run into Tanaka with a sweep on the line and in the midst of a now five-game losing streak. Coming off of a 6-3 road trip that involved a sweep in Tampa of the Rays, they are just 1-5 during this home stand and nothing is going right for this team at the moment. They did just acquire Mark Trumbo from the D’Backs, but they need to turn it around and quickly if they want to compete in 2015.
As for the Yankees, they are looking good again. At 29-25, they lead a fairly weak AL East, and now with an encouraging start from Tanaka as he returned from the DL, they could be the favorites moving forward.
The Yankees have an off day Thursday before hosting the Angels in the Bronx on Friday. Seattle welcomes the Rays to Seattle, a team they just swept in Tampa, as the Mariners look to turn it around.