Masahiro Tanaka just needed to hit the road to find his groove again. Of course, that four-run cushion before he stepped on the mound was helpful, too.
Tanaka matched a season high with eight sparkling innings, Carlos Beltran hit a two-run homer and the New York Yankees beat the Minnesota Twins 8-2 on Friday night.
Tanaka allowed one run and seven hits, recovering nicely from his rough outing last Saturday when he gave up five runs at home against Detroit. He is 3-1 with a 1.32 ERA in seven road starts – the second-lowest road ERA in the AL and third-lowest in the majors.
”There’s season where you do well as home and there’s season where you do better away on the road,” Tanaka said through an interpreter. ”Throughout my career it’s been like that. Maybe this season it’s been something like that but I don’t really look into that much.”
Tanaka (4-2) didn’t allow a walk for the fifth time this year, and the Yankees scored more runs than they had in his previous four starts combined.
”I think it’s important because it allows the pitcher to relax a little bit and every pitch isn’t the end of the world,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. ”To be able to give him seven runs pretty quickly is nice.”
The Japanese right-hander had all the run support he needed by the time he tossed his first pitch. Beltran connected against Pat Dean (1-3) in the first, and Rob Refsnyder and Didi Gregorius each drove in a run in the inning to give Tanaka an early 4-0 lead.
”Helped me out mentally obviously, but as a starting pitcher being on the mound you want to put up as much zeros as possible, and that’s what I was trying to do all night,” Tanaka said.
The Yankees cruised the rest of the way for their second straight win after snapping a four-game skid Thursday. Tanaka has gone at least six innings with one earned run or less in five straight road starts since May 5.
Dean, meanwhile, had an eight-hit, 68-pitch night against the team he grew up rooting for in Connecticut. Nearly every Yankees batter he faced had a hit by the time he was pulled with one out in the third. He walked Chase Headley to load the bases before Gregorius’ fielder’s choice scored Alex Rodriguez.
The Twins optioned Dean to Triple-A Rochester after the game and recalled left-hander Tommy Milone.
”You hate to say a game’s over early, but it didn’t start out well,” Twins manager Paul Molitor said.
Eduardo Escobar drove in both of Minnesota’s runs; he had an RBI double in the second and a homer off Nick Goody in the ninth.