Kevin Millwood notches 2,000th strikeout in beating Yankees

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One could stump a lot of people with this question: who is the active leader in strikeouts among right-handed pitchers?

It will soon by Roy Halladay, who stands at 1,980, but for now, Kevin Millwood is tops. The Mariners veteran fanned six Yankees in a 6-2 win Sunday, upping his career total from 1,998 to 2,004.

Javier Vazquez ended last season as the active strikeout leader with 2,536. Since he’s now out of the league, the list is topped by two left-handers who actually didn’t pitch at all in 2011: Jamie Moyer (2,429) and Andy Pettitte (2,253). CC Sabathia (2,070) is third and rising. Millwood is fourth even though he’s finished in the top 10 of his league in strikeouts just twice: a fourth-place finish in 1999 and and a 10th-place showing in 2002.

Millwood today spoiled Pettitte’s return to Yankee Stadium with his best effort of the season. He allowed just one run and three hits to earn his first win in seven starts and lower his ERA from 5.88 to 5.09. Pettitte gave up four runs in 6 1/3 innings and took the loss.

Masahiro Tanaka throws two-hit shutout vs. Rays

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Yankees starter Masahiro Tanaka went the distance, holding the Rays scoreless on two hits and one walk with 10 strikeouts across nine innings on Monday night in the Bronx. It’s the fourth shutout of his career, accounting for four of the Yankees’ last six shutouts. The other two were thrown my Luis Severino and Brandon McCarthy.

DJ LeMahieu provided the bulk of the offense, swatting a two-run home run off of Yonny Chirinos in the third inning. Cameron Maybin tacked on a solo homer off of Chirinos in the fifth as the Yankees went on to win 3-0.

After Monday’s performance, Tanaka owns a 3.23 ERA with 84 strikeouts and 20 walks across 92 innings on the season.

With the win, the Yankees increase their lead over the Rays for first place in the AL East to 1.5 games.