NEW YORK -- Masahiro Tanaka dominated the Rays' hitters and the Yankees' power bats dominated Rays pitching Friday night in a 6-1 win over Tampa Bay at Yankee Stadium.The Yankees (55-46) earned their fifth consecutive win -- and second straight over the visiting Rays (53-51) -- and took over sole
NEW YORK -- Masahiro Tanaka dominated the Rays' hitters and the Yankees' power bats dominated Rays pitching Friday night in a 6-1 win over Tampa Bay at Yankee Stadium.
The Yankees (55-46) earned their fifth consecutive win -- and second straight over the visiting Rays (53-51) -- and took over sole possession of first place in the American League East. The Yanks lead the Red Sox by a half-game. Tampa Bay sits third in the AL Wild Card standings, 2 1/2 games behind the Royals for the second spot
Tanaka retired the first 17 batters he faced before Adeiny Hechavarria singled with two out in the sixth. The right-hander allowed one run on two hits while fanning a career-high 14 en route to his eighth win of the season.
"Yeah, it was [no-hit stuff]," Rays manager Kevin Cash said. "Generally you tie no-hit stuff into a lot of power. But he does it a different way. But you could tell early on from the swings that guys were taking that he had really, really good, late deceptive stuff.
"He established that he was going to be able to live at the bottom of the zone. ... It was more or less he was painting at the bottom of the zone. And when he does that, he's going to get hitters to expand a little bit."
Tanaka said he first noticed after the fifth inning that he was throwing a perfect game, and acknowledged he might've been his own jinx. He laughed that it was the next inning, with two outs in the sixth, that he surrendered his first hit.
"That's when I realized I hadn't given up a hit," Tanaka said through an interpreter. "I went back out after that inning, and in the sixth, I gave up a hit and that was that."
Brute force in the form of home runs from all three Yankees outfielders backed Tanaka's excellence on the mound.
Brett Gardner led off the Yankees first with a solo home run against Rays starter Austin Pruitt. Aaron Judge added a solo shot in the fourth and Clint Frazier connected on a three-run homer in the fifth that put the Yankees up 5-0.
Usually when I'm involved, that keeps the outfield from accomplishing something like that," said Gardner of all three outfielders going deep. "This year, I've managed to hit a few. … It's a lot of fun to be out there in the outfield with those two guys."
Lucas Duda, who was acquired by the Rays from the Mets on Thursday, got his first hit as a Ray when he homered off Tanaka in the seventh to cut the lead to 5-1.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Back-to-back for Gardner: Less than 24 hours after Gardner hit a walk-off homer in the 11th inning of the Yankees' 6-5 win over the Rays, Gardner led off Friday night's game with his 19th home run of the season to get the Yankees headed in the right direction. More >
Judge/Frazier play rocketball: Judge's 33rd home run of the season was a no-doubter. The slugger connected on a 1-2 pitch from Pruitt and deposited the ball 397 feet into the left-field stands on a blast that had a 111.6-mph exit velocity with a 21-degree launch angle, according to Statcast™. Judge has hit 18 home runs this season with an exit velocity of 110-plus mph. Frazier managed to upstage Judge with a 455-foot home run -- the sixth longest for the Yankees this season -- that had an exit velocity of 111 mph with a 26-degree launch angle as measured by Statcast™.
"I don't think anybody in Triple-A gets that ball. I put it where I wanted. He just got to it."
-- Pruitt, who was recalled from Triple-A Durham to start Friday night, on the inside fastball he threw Judge
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Gardner is now the third Yankee to ever homer to end a game and then hit another home run to lead off the following game. Roberto Kelly did it in August 1990 and Hall of Fame second baseman Joe Gordon did it in August 1940.
Rays pitchers have allowed at least one home run in their last 15 games, their longest such stretch since July 26-Aug. 11, 2006.
Rays:Blake Snell (0-6, 4.86 ERA) gets the nod Saturday against the Yankees in a 1:05 p.m. ET contest at Yankee Stadium. The left-hander has struggled with command and pitching deep into games, but showed improvement in his last outing when he pitched a career-high seven innings against the Orioles.
Yankees: Left-hander Caleb Smith (0-1, 8.10 ERA) takes the mound Saturday against the Rays at 1:05 p.m. ET at Yankee Stadium. He was shaky in his first career start against the Mariners on Sunday, allowing four runs in 3 2/3 innings, but was impressive out of the bullpen in his MLB debut vs. the Twins on July 17.
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Bill Chastain has covered the Rays for MLB.com since 2005.
Matthew Martell is a reporter for MLB.com based in New York.