Tanaka dominates Blue Jays in 8-K win

March 31st, 2018

TORONTO -- The Yankees' pitching staff has frequently taken a backseat to the vaunted lineup, but through the team's first 18 innings, its hurlers have contributed a pair of gems to blend with that offensive thump.

continued his career-long dominance of the Blue Jays by allowing one run over six strong innings, striking out eight and retiring the final 13 men he faced in the Yankees' 4-1 victory on Friday evening at Rogers Centre.

"You always want to start out on a good note," Tanaka said through an interpreter. "I feel a little bit relieved right now. It just goes back to Spring Training and how I approached it. I went into all of the games with a theme. I felt like I stuck to it, and I felt like I did a pretty good job at it."

Tanaka permitted only three hits, including 's homer in the second inning, his first for the club. Done after 79 pitches, Tanaka improved to 10-4 with a 2.85 ERA in 16 career starts against the Blue Jays.

"To get through six innings fairly pitch-efficient, I thought was really impressive," manager Aaron Boone said. "I don't think he necessarily had his best split tonight or even his best stuff, for that matter, but ... I thought it was really a quality effort by a mature, really good pitcher."

Coupled with 's stellar Opening Day effort, Yankees starters have limited Toronto to one run on four hits over 11 1/3 innings, with 15 strikeouts.

and were held hitless on Friday night, but the bottom of the order picked up the slack against , who allowed four runs in 5 2/3 innings. went 2-for-2 with a walk and two RBIs, contributed a two-run double, and Didi Gregorius added a triple and a double.

"It's a special lineup, for sure," Drury said. "One through nine is dangerous, the whole way through. We're excited about it and looking to keep it rolling."

A pair of two-out doubles off brought the potential tying run to the plate in the ninth, but Grichuk struck out looking, and the Yankees opened a season 2-0 for the first time since 2011.

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED

Started from the bottom: With runners on the corners in the second inning, Drury cracked a 95.1-mph Sanchez heater off the wall in right field for an RBI double, narrowly missing a three-run homer. The two-out knock immediately followed 's first Major League hit, a ground-ball single to right field.

"I didn't know it was going to go off the wall," Drury said. "I knew I barreled it and hit it pretty good. I didn't know it was going to be that close to a homer, but I'll take it every time."

The two-out rally: Wade's first two at-bats against Sanchez -- a strikeout and a groundout to first base -- did not inspire confidence, but he was ready for a big bases-loaded chance in the sixth. Pouncing on a 1-0 fastball, Wade roped a double to center field, sending home Gregorius and , giving the Yanks a three-run lead.

"Neil and Brandon put together really good at-bats, and I was just trying to feed off that. I got a good pitch to hit," Wade said. "It's a big hit. It's Game 2, but for me, each and every game is a big game. I was just fired up."

SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS

The Yankees improved to 5-1 all time in the month of March. With another victory, they would secure their first series win in Toronto since Aug. 14-16, 2015, having gone 0-6-1 in their previous seven series at Rogers Centre

WHAT'S NEXT

takes the ball for the third game of the season on Saturday at 4:07 p.m. ET, coming off a renaissance campaign. He is 8-4 with a 3.11 ERA in 14 career starts at Rogers Centre.

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