I said in the gamethread that there’s a non-zero chance today was Masahiro Tanaka’s last start in New York. If that turns out to be true, what a way to finish your time in the Bronx. 7IP, 15K, 0BB, 3H, and no runs allowed. Yes, that’s 15 strikeouts, a new career high. The brilliant pitching performance was more than enough to deliver the Yankees’ 90th win of the season, brushing aside the Toronto Blue Jays 4-0.
Tanaka’s splitter alone might have been his best all year. He really seemed to have a feel for the pitch immediately, striking out the side to open the ball game and getting both Teoscar Hernandez and Josh Donaldson to swing over his split-finger. The Yankees grabbed a couple runs in the bottom half after loading the bases. Starlin Castro nubbed an infield RBI single, and Greg Bird drove in another run with a sac fly.
After the first, Tanaka really took over. He was perfect through 4.2 innings, and just as those unspeakable words were being whispered, Ezequiel Carrera broke through with an infield hit. The leftfielder quickly stole second, but Tanaka picked him off second to close the inning.
The offense tacked on a run in their succeeding two innings, with Aaron Judge knocking in Aaron Hicks and Greg Bird driving in Didi Gregorius in the fifth and sixth respectively. With a 4-0 lead, Tanaka gave up a double to Donaldson, then fanned two of the next three batters to finish the game with a clean sheet. Amazing work.
The bullpen did get into a bit of trouble, with David Robertson walking the first batter of the eighth. D-Rob engineered a great double play, with help from Bird (see tweet below) to escape damage, only for Dellin Betances to put on the first two men in the ninth. Joe Girardi got his hook out early, yanking Betances in favor of Aroldis Chapman.
Chapman got a strikeout and groundout to bring up an old friend with two out: Rob Refsynder. In a movie ending, Ref would hit a home run to stick it to his old team. This is not a movie, and Ref struck out to end the ballgame.
Closing thoughts: Tanaka was amazing, and so is this tweet.
The Yankees have won 90 games. Not bad for a rebuilding year. Jaime Garcia will go for win 91 tomorrow at 1:05pm EDT.