ST. PETERSBURG -- On a night they bolstered their bullpen by acquiring Orioles closer Zach Britton for three Minor League prospects, the Yankees got a shutout from Masahiro Tanaka in a 4-0 win over the Rays on Tuesday night.
"It's satisfying, but as the season continues, we still have a lot more games to play," Tanaka said through a translator. "I'll allow myself to celebrate tonight and then back to business tomorrow."
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Tanaka retired the first 12 batters he faced, and he needed just eight pitches to make it through the second and nine in the third and fourth. He tossed 105 pitches total -- 74 for strikes -- to get through his sixth MLB complete game. He finished the night allowing just three hits and a walk and tied his season high with nine strikeouts.
"It might look efficient, but that's kind of something that's not in my control," Tanaka said. 'What I was doing was really control the ball and I felt like I was able to do that."
Tanaka, who was pitching on eight days' rest because of the All-Star break and rain washing out his last scheduled start on Sunday, said that the extra days off helped him make a few minor adjustments.
C.J. Cron finally broke up the perfect game by leading off the bottom of the fifth with a sharp single up the middle that narrowly missed Tanaka. Ji-Man Choi quickly made it two baserunners with a free pass to put two men on with no outs. Tanaka worked his way out of the jam by getting Daniel Robertson to chase a slider off the outside of the plate and inducing a 3-6-1 double play off the bat of Mallex Smith.
"The command he had with his slider and the ability to dump in some first-pitch curveballs and then the split was great tonight, too," manager Aaron Boone said. "He really commanded it how he wanted. Got to two strikes and got a lot of swings and misses. Just really perfect execution all night."
Tanaka (8-2) is undefeated in his past 12 starts, going 6-0 since April 23. The start also continued Tanaka's dominance on the road, where he is 6-0 in 11 starts this season.
"Last year he had a similar season where he started to take off and, obviously, had a great postseason," Boone said. "So hopefully this is him starting to get into a groove, because he's obviously so important to our rotation."
The Yankees' offense wasted no time in jumping on Rays starter Yonny Chirinos. Brett Gardner and Aaron Judge led off the top of the first with consecutive singles to left. Giancarlo Stanton, who came into the game 9-for-9 in his past two games at Tropicana Field, struck out swinging on a breaking ball in the dirt that got away from Rays catcher Jesus Sucre to put men on second and third with one out. Didi Gregorius was able to plate the first run with a fielder's choice and give the Yankees a quick 1-0 lead.
The Yankees would rally again in the top of the fifth. Chirinos plunked Brandon Drury in the hand and Drury would move to third on a line drive single to right by Neil Walker. Drury would end up leaving the game with a left hand contusion. Austin Romine's fielder's choice scored Drury's pinch-runner, Tyler Wade, to make it 2-0 New York.
Miguel Andujar led off the seventh with a single off Chirinos and moved to third on a lazy pop fly off the bat of Greg Bird that fell into no-man's land in shallow left for a double because the Rays were in an exaggerated lefty shift. Chirinos intentionally walked Walker to load the bases for Romine. Romine, who got the start for the injured Gary Sanchez, briefly took the air out of the crowd with a long fly ball to the warning track in right for the sac fly. Reliever Chih-Wei Hu was brought on to face Gardner, who popped out to third to end the inning.
For just the third time this season, the Yankees have gone two games without hitting a homer. They've not gone three games in a row without hitting a dinger.
MITEL REPLAY OF THE DAY
The Rays challenged a call in the fourth when a ball Andujar hit down the left-field line was called fair. Andujar pulled into second base with a double. After a review of one minute and 23 seconds, the call on the field was overturned. Tampa Bay challenged another call in the seventh when Andujar was called safe at third after Bird doubled. After a one-minute, 35-second review, the call stood.
Luis Cessa (1-1, 3.00 ERA) will be recalled from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre to make his third start of the season when the Yankees conclude their three-game set against the Rays in a 12:10 p.m. ET matinee at Tropicana Field on Wednesday. Nathan Eovaldi (3-4, 4.26 ERA) will take the mound for Tampa Bay against his former team.