Three batters and five pitches into his start Wednesday, it looked like Masahiro Tanaka was going to follow up his 14-strikeout gem with another daytime dud.
But Tanaka found his groove after allowing a run and three hits to start the game. He was a tough-luck loser in the Yankees’ 2-0 loss to Detroit, giving up two runs (one earned) in six innings on six hits, one walk and seven strikeouts. A Jacoby Ellsbury error in the fourth led to an unearned run.
“Just going back to the basics of going one pitch at a time, trying to execute all the pitches,” Tanaka said through an interpreter of how he fared after the first three hitters. “So as far as adjustments go, that’s the only thing I did.”
Tanaka lost for the third time in his career and second time this season when pitching at least six innings and allowing no more than one earned run; it also happened on May 26 against Oakland.
His walk of Mikie Mahtook with two outs in the fourth snapped a streak of 105 batters faced without a walk. Tanaka also broke out of his daytime funk; in six previous day starts this season he had a 14.81 ERA.
“He gave up the one run in the first, the earned run, and then gets two big strikeouts and another out, and then he seemed to pitch extremely well,” Joe Girardi said. “Again, another good performance out of him.”
(Frank Franklin II/AP)
Dellin Betances’ “immaculate” inning in the eighth — nine pitches, all strikes, with three strikeouts — was the sixth in Yankees’ history. Betances, who finished with two scoreless innings, joins Brandon McCarthy; Ivan Nova; A.J. Burnett; Ron Guidry and Al Downing in that group.
Aaron Hicks, who’s been on the disabled list since June 26 with the oblique strain, began a rehab assignment with Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Wednesday night. He went 1-for-3 batting in the two-hole and played five innings in center field. Hicks was slashing .290/.398/.515 with 10 homers and 37 RBI in 242 plate appearances before his injury.
Entering Wednesday’s game, in 71 at-bats since returning from a concussion on June 26, Jacoby Ellsbury had 12 hits.
Ellsbury, who went 2-for-4 with a stolen base, may be reduced to a fourth-outfielder role, but Girardi believes he can be an asset.
“I still think Jacoby can help us a lot, and in a lot of different ways,” Girardi said. “In his defense, I actually think he’s swung the bat better the past couple of weeks. He’s hit the ball harder, he’s made outs. We saw the impact that he can have on a game very quickly last night. So those are the things that we’re looking for from him, and I think he can be a big part of this.”
The Yankees have caught a break as they enter a four-game series with AL Central-leading Cleveland. Standout reliever Andrew Miller — whom the Yanks traded to the Indians last season in the deal that landed them Clint Frazier and Justus Sheffield — went on the 10-day disabled list Wednesday with knee tendinitis.
Miller has been excellent for Cleveland this season, sporting a 1.67 ERA in 54 innings with 78 strikeouts and a 0.76 WHIP.