Yankees manager Joe Girardi’s stated wish was that Masahiro Tanaka would give the Yankees “length.”
Instead, Tanaka authored the kind of performance which prompted the organization to spend $175 million on the right-hander.
In his first Subway Series start, Tanaka threw a complete-game four-hitter in the Yankees’ 4-0 win over the Mets Wednesday night at Citi Field.
“I think you can argue he’s been as valuable as anyone on our team,” Girardi said.
The Yankees improved to 20-19, while the Mets fell to 19-20. The win snapped a six-game losing streak for the Yankees against the Mets. The Yankees were swept last year by their crosstown rivals, and had dropped the first two games of the series in 2014.
“We needed a win,” Girardi said. “We lost four straight.”
After allowing a one-out single to Daniel Murphy in the first, Tanaka retired 10 in a row before Chris Young’s leadoff single in the fifth. He struck out eight and only two Mets — Eric Young Jr. in the sixth and David Wright in the seventh — were able to work a three-ball count on Tanaka, who recorded his first major league hit in the ninth.
“He’s outstanding,” Mets manager Terry Collins said. “He’s a great pitcher. We saw that tonight.”
Tanaka is 6-0 this season.
“Tanaka was really good again. I thought he got better as the night went on. To be able to give us what he gave us was great,” Girardi said, before acknowledging some concern his ace would exhaust himself running the bases.
“You’re thinking, ‘Oh boy, [do you] want to get worn out running the bases?’ Someone’s going to hit a ball in the gap and he’s going to have to run hard. That’s not what you want. He had a lot of firsts tonight: His first big-league hit, his first major league shutout, his first Subway Series win.”
Tanaka’s dominating performance overshadowed a serviceable effort from Rafael Montero in his first major league start. Despite taking the loss, Montero was serviceable as he yielded three runs on five hits in six innings.
“I really liked him,” Collins said of Montero. “I can see why everybody raved about him. He’s around the strike zone, constantly. I was very impressed. This kid’s [going to] be good.”
Montero threw 108 pitches, and only a few he would want back.
Brian Roberts’ two-out triple in the bottom of the second plated Yangervis Solarte with the game’s first run, aided by an ill-advised dive by Young, which allowed the ball to roll to the wall.
“He made a mistake,” Collins said. “He made a mistake. He knows it. We’re not going to dwell on it. He’s a max effort guy. He plays hard; he goes after it. He catches it and he gets a standing ovation. If he [could] do it over, I’m sure he changes his mind.”
Solarte added to the lead in the fourth when he slugged a 3-1 pitch into the Pepsi Porch for a solo home run to put the Yankees ahead 2-0. Two innings later, Mark Teixeira’s eighth of the year pushed the advantage to 3-0.
Carlos Torres replaced Montero in the seventh, and the reliever added to the deficit by giving up a two-out RBI single to Derek Jeter.
Chase Whitley will oppose Jacob deGrom in the series finale Thursday. It will be the first major league start for both.
Follow Mets beat writer Denis Gorman on Twitter @DenisGorman.