By Kevin Cusmano
Manager Joe Girardi said Saturday's start against the Toronto Blue Jays would be Masahiro Tanaka's biggest as a New York Yankee, and the ace from Japan delivered. Tanaka put forth an outstanding performance, firing a complete game and giving the bullpen a much needed day off, resulting in a 4-1 victory and 1.5-game lead in the AL East.
Tanaka was in and out of jams for most of the afternoon, but he never let the Blue Jays get the big hit, even as they were running up his pitch count early in the game. He ended up allowing just one run on five hits, striking out eight over nine innings.
The Yankees surely carried the momentum of last night's victory against the Blue Jays into Saturday afternoon's matinee. Friday night's hero, Carlos Beltran, delivered a solo home run to put the Yankees ahead early. Mark Teixeira appears to be coming alive again, hitting a solo home run and later coming through with an RBI single as a much-needed insurance run. Tanaka did the rest.
Although the Yankees offense still hasn't gotten into full gear, the pitching, along with good defense, has been more than enough during this three-game winning streak.
Another sold out crowd in Toronto was left quiet as the Yankees have come in and taken care of the first two games and look to finish off the sweep Sunday when they send Luis Severino to the hill against Drew Hutchinson.
The Yankees have made a statement already. Sunday is just going to be the proverbial cherry on top when they complete the sweep.
The Yankees head home to open next week, starting with a series against the Cleveland Indians, and best believe the Yankees want to give them a little payback as well.