NEW YORK -- The Yankees fielded a new-look lineup that included Andrew McCutchen's pinstriped debut in right field and Gary Sanchez sporting shin guards in a big league game for the first time in more than a month, but their most important contributor was the man on the mound.
Masahiro Tanaka snapped a five-start winless streak by expertly weaving through trouble for seven innings, rearing back for a pair of crucial strikeouts to end his outing with a lead intact, pacing the Yankees to a 2-1 victory over the Tigers on Saturday afternoon at Yankee Stadium.
"I think it's exciting," Tanaka said through an interpreter. "Now that we're in the month of September, we have one more month to go in the regular season. Just to be able to come up with the win today, I think it's a really good start going into the last stretch of the season."
Detroit scored a first-inning run on Victor Martinez's sacrifice fly, but managed nothing more off Tanaka, who completed back-to-back outings of seven or more innings for the first time since last Sept. 2. He scattered seven hits while striking out six, including whiffs of Michael Mahtook and Jim Adduci on nasty splitters that pinned two men on in the seventh.
Despite getting only two hits from his offense, Tanaka won for the first time since July 31, his lead preserved when Jonathan Holder worked a scoreless eighth inning around a hit. Dellin Betances recorded the final three outs of the Yankees' 11th win in 15 games, bouncing back after a blown save in Thursday's series opener.
"You never want to go out there and blow the game, blow the lead," Betances said. "At the same time, you've got to be patient. My mindset that has served me best is short-term memory. It's a long season. You're going to have good games and some bad ones. This team this year has given me a little trouble. I was just glad I got back out there fairly quickly to shake hands at the end of the game."
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For the second straight day, a Yankee broke up a no-hit bid with a two-run homer. This time, it was Gleyber Torres, who cleared the left-field wall with his 22nd homer after Daniel Norris had retired the first 12 men he faced. Torres is batting .420 (21-for-50) with four homers and 11 RBIs in his last 14 games, since Aug. 18.
"I almost forgot about his homer because the defense was so good," Yankees manager Aaron Boone said. "He's been special in the field and I thought he played a really good shortstop. He made a good play at second in the ninth on what looks like is kind of a simple play but is not. So he's impacted our club in a profound way on both sides of the ball all year."
Batting leadoff in a role that Boone said could be a regular assignment against left-handed pitchers, McCutchen went 0-for-3 with a hit-by-pitch. Sanchez hit a couple of balls hard in an 0-for-4 showing at the plate, earning praise for his aggressive blocking to smother Tanaka's pitches and maintain the Yankees' advantage.
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"It definitely felt good," Sanchez said through an interpreter. "I've had the opportunity to catch Masa many, many times now, so I feel very comfortable catching him. He was executing pitches. He was locating very well with the fastball. Down and away was key today. He was excellent."
Betances' swinging strikeout of Jeimer Candelario to begin the ninth inning was the right-hander's 100th of the season, making him the first reliever in Major League history to record 100 or more strikeouts in five consecutive seasons.
"It means a lot, honestly," Betances said. "To be able to spend a lot of time in the Minor Leagues, I came up as a starter and that didn't work out for me so I got moved to the bullpen. From 2014 I've been able to stay healthy, which is the key. I'm always thanking God for the ability he gave me to have two really good pitches."
HE SAID IT
"I just wish I could have had a few hits, but other than that, it was a good time. I really enjoyed myself. The fans were great. It was loud. It was electric here. They definitely have a playoff atmosphere here." -- McCutchen
The Yankees will conclude their homestand Sunday afternoon against the Tigers at 1:05 p.m. ET, with right-hander Lance Lynn (8-9, 4.84 ERA) making his sixth start and seventh appearance for the club. Lynn last pitched Tuesday, taking a no-decision in the Yanks' walk-off win over the White Sox. Left-hander Matthew Boyd (8-12, 4.22) will start for Detroit.