SEATTLE -- With the Yankees' final push being viewed as an ongoing audition for a win-or-go-home start in the American League Wild Card Game, Masahiro Tanaka's dominant effort served as a compelling argument that he could be trusted with everything on the line.Tanaka turned in one of his best outings
SEATTLE -- With the Yankees' final push being viewed as an ongoing audition for a win-or-go-home start in the American League Wild Card Game, Masahiro Tanaka's dominant effort served as a compelling argument that he could be trusted with everything on the line.
Tanaka turned in one of his best outings of the season on Friday, striking out 10 over eight innings and leading the Bombers to a 4-0 victory over the Mariners at Safeco Field. On a night when manager Aaron Boone said all playoff pitching would be determined over the final 22 games, Tanaka did nothing to dissuade the Yanks from handing him the ball.
"I don't want to look too far ahead," Tanaka said through an interpreter. "I think it's important to just really focus on the game at hand. That's the mentality right now. I'll make adjustments going into next game and I'll be efficient."
Gleyber Torres and Andrew McCutchen homered in support of Tanaka, who faced one batter over the minimum through the first five innings and improved to 7-0 in eight career starts against Seattle.
"We even saw him be able to reach back when he needed a little extra velocity," Boone said. "The one time he got into a jam, he made some big pitches. He was in complete command out there tonight. The ability to flip any pitch in there for a strike but also have the swing and miss stuff that he has. He was terrific."
Tanaka scattered three hits and walked none, throwing 74 of 102 pitches for strikes.
"To be honest with you, I felt like I didn't have my best stuff," Tanaka said. "But as the game went on, I felt like I was really able to get my focus locked in and able to pitch the way I pitched today."
Tanaka's greatest challenge came in the sixth, as Mike Zunino led off with a double and Jean Segura reached on a two-out infield hit to put runners on the corners. Tanaka struck out Robinson Cano swinging to end the inning, preserving his pristine effort.
"He was the same guy you always see," Cano said. "He threw the ball wherever he wants. When he's throwing the slow pitches for strikes, you know he's going to be good. He never gives you anything to hit. He's going to throw the pitch where he wants and he mixes everything."
Torres and McCutchen each hit two-run homers off Seattle ace James Paxton, who was charged with four runs on five hits over six innings.
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For the 21-year-old Torres, it was his 23rd homer and his 100th career hit, making him the youngest Yankee since Mickey Mantle in 1952 to reach 100 career hits. McCutchen's third-inning homer marked his first in a Yankees uniform, supporting the Bombers' 10th shutout of the season.
"Tanaka is awesome," Torres said. "He was pitching pretty good tonight, and everybody feels comfortable with that."
At 21 years and 268 days of age, Torres is the fourth-youngest Yankee to reach 100 hits. The only players to do so at a younger age were Mantle on April 30, 1952 (20 years, 193 days), Ben Chapman on July 20, 1930 (21 years, 207 days) and Joe DiMaggio on July 12, 1936 (21 years, 230 days).
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HE SAID IT
"I'm proud of him for bouncing back. That's one of the things I talked to him about, even in that game, was keep going. Fight. Compete. I thought he did a good job of turning the page from that first inning, even in the game in Oakland the other night. I thought the rest of the night he was solid, and I thought he was really good tonight and really on a good page with Masa. They worked really well together for the second time in a row, and there's no question Gary had a hand in that." -- Boone, on catcher Gary Sanchez
Lance Lynn (8-10, 5.10 ERA) will have another opportunity to turn around his recent slide on Saturday as the Yankees and Mariners meet for a 9:10 p.m. ET contest at Safeco Field. Lynn pitched well in his first three appearances after being acquired on July 30, but is 0-2 with an 8.59 ERA in his last three starts. Right-hander Felix Hernandez (8-13, 5.55 ERA) will start for Seattle.
Bryan Hoch has covered the Yankees for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and on Facebook.