Masahiro Tanaka battles for ninth win of season against A’s

Masahiro Tanaka
Masahiro Tanaka improved to 9-1 on Thursday.
Credit: Getty Images

A true ace gets through a game even when the opponent is making it extremely difficult.

Masahiro Tanaka stepped up on Thursday.

He was strong for six innings, escaped long counts at various points and when his 12th career start was over, the Yankees ended a four-game losing streak with a 2-1 victory against the Athletics, who sit 14 games over .500.

“As far as my personal performance goes, I don’t think it was my best performance of the season,” Tanaka said through an interpreter. “Given the fact the team and the slump [we were] on and facing one of the best teams in the league right now, I’m really happy that I was able to conquer the opposing team.”

“They’re tough outs and they make him work,” New York manager Joe Girardi said. “I think you could say it’s his biggest performance for us.”

There was little that can be described as easy for Tanaka, even during a stretch when he retired 10 in a row. The streak came after John Jaso became the first hitter in 39 1/3 innings to homer off the rookie.

Tanaka shook it off by getting three groundouts, two pop-outs, two lineouts, two fly outs and a strikeout. But it was the next 52 pitches that were his toughest.

It started in the fourth with consecutive two-out singles to Brandon Moss and Yoenis Cespedes. It took nine pitches to strike out Jed Lowrie, who fouled off three splitters and two fastballs before waving at a 2-2 slider for the final out of the inning.

“He has a good splitter,” Moss said. “He threw a lot of off-speed pitches. He’s just one of those guys that it’s hard to string together a lot of hits against.”

It continued with a leadoff single by Stephen Vogt at the end of a 10-pitch at-bat. After getting the next two outs, Tanaka walked Coco Crisp but could exhale when Jaso popped up the second pitch and again in the sixth when he stranded Moss on first.

His 103rd pitch was a slider that missed the target but wound up becoming a foul out by Cespedes. His final pitch was a groundout by Lowrie.

“He found a way to get out of those innings,” Girardi said. “They put some really long, tough at-bats [on him]. He never let up and he kept going at them, going at them and they fouling pitches off and he ended up getting the big outs he needed to get.”

“It was a tough game for me,” Tanaka said. “I think the A’s were really resilient. They didn’t give in.”

As much as Tanaka would have wanted to stay in, the Yankees saw he was spent and armed with a one-run lead, they hoped for the best even if it was not easy.

Dellin Betances made it easy in the seventh but it was the eighth when things became a bit dicey for Adam Warren. He opened the inning by allowing consecutive singles to Crisp and Jaso but got through the middle of the order, ending the inning by blowing a 96-mph fastball by Cespedes.

Robertson had his first save opportunity since being charged with five runs Sunday. He had a runner on third with two outs though he would not have even gotten the second out if he didn’t run over to cover first when a ground ball deflected off his heel. He recorded the save by executing and locating enough that plate umpire Tom Hallion ruled it a called strike three on Derek Norris.

“I got lucky and executed the last pitch,” Robertson said. “I thought it was good. If the umpire thought it was good, that’s all the matters.”

Follow Yankees beat writer Larry Fleisher on Twitter @LarryFleisher.


Sister of accused Boston Marathon bombers arrested for…

The sister of the accused Boston Marathon bombers was arrested in New York City for threatening a woman over the phone, saying she could "put a bomb on you," police…


Mayor announces public housing improvements

Mayor Bill de Blasio spoke at the Lincoln Houses in East Harlem on Wednesday, calling for the scaffolding to come down at NYCHA complexes across…


Peter Theo Curtis: American released by Syrian militants…

An American writer freed this week from two years in the captivity of insurgents in Syria spoke briefly outside his family's Cambridge home Wednesday of…


Bratton defends 'broken windows' work as NYPD support…

Sixty percent of those polled said they support the "broken windows" theory approach popularized by Commissioner Bratton since his first term in the 1990s.


'So You Think You Can Dance' recap: Season…

Season 11’s top four dancers gave their final performances before America’s Favorite Dancers are announced next week.

Going Out

Labor Day in NYC: Make the last weekend…

Soon, it’ll be time for wool accessories and knee-high boots. Even the Pumpkin Spice Latte has already arrived — but we still have one last…

Going Out

Things to do this week in NYC, Aug.…

MUSIC The Electric Zoo Festival Aug. 29-31, 1 p.m. Randall’s Island Park $99-$369, The electronic music celebration returns for a fifth year, with 150,000 attendees…

Going Out

5 things to do this weekend in NYC

The Electric Zoo Festival Aug. 29-31, 1 p.m. Randall’s Island Park $99-$369, The electronic music celebration returns for a fifth year, with 150,000 attendees expected. David Guetta,…


Mario Manningham on the bubble as Giants play…

Former Super Bowl hero Mario Manningham hopes his second go-around with Big Blue doesn’t end with Saturday’s final cut day.


Source: Stephen Hill 'faces a battle' to make…

A team source says Stephen Hill, who has battled injuries and poor performances during his first two years, is no lock to make the Jets’ final roster.


Serena Williams leaving legacy of talented American women…

It seems only a matter of when, not if, Serena Williams will win her 18th career grand slam championship.


When are 2014 college football playoffs? (Schedule, date,…

When and where are 2014 college football playoffs? A look at the schedule, date, TV, time for the semi-finals at championship game.


Recipe: Samuel Adams beer-marinated grilled shrimp

Summer calls for two things: a cold beer and light food. Sam Adams' Latitude 48 IPA fairly bursts with citrus notes, making it an ideal marinade…


4 healthy ingredient swaps to make your meals…

When it comes to eating well, everyone knows they could be doing better. But cooking in an apartment on a busy schedule is a recipe…


Heart trumps brain when it comes to movies…

When you need a good cry, do you reach for the movie that’s “based on a true story”? Science says you’re giving your brain far…


The 10 types of people you meet online

Does it ever seem like online dating profiles tend to get a little repetitive? It turns out you are not the only one to have…