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Watch: Masahiro Tanaka helps tie Yankees’ strikeout record

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Masahiro Tanaka saved his best start for last. The Yankees’ right-hander spun seven innings without a run or a walk during Friday’s series opener, holding the Blue Jays to three hits and polishing off his 13th win of the season with a career-best 15 strikeouts.

Tanaka stunned the Jays with 10 strikeouts in the first 14 at-bats, preserving his perfect game bid until it was snapped by an Ezequiel Carrera line drive in the fifth.

Carrera made it to second base on his 10th steal of the season, but couldn’t find a way to come home to score after he was picked off during the next at-bat. Tanaka returned with another five strikeouts in two innings, besting the 14-strikeout record he set against the Rays back in July.

The Blue Jays didn’t fare much better against the bullpen. David Robertson twirled a scoreless eighth and a pair of strikeouts from Aroldis Chapman boosted the Yankees’ total to 18, matching a franchise record for most strikeouts in a nine-inning game.

While Tanaka’s gem stands alone as one of the best performances the Yankees have delivered this season, it also kept the club in the running for their first AL East title since 2012. They stand to clinch the division should they sweep the Blue Jays and see the Astros sweep the Red Sox this weekend.

Video: Pete Alonso hits home run no. 50

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Rookie first baseman Pete Alonso has launched what appears to be the beginning of an auspicious career, made all the more notable by the 50 home runs he’s produced for the Mets so far this season. The All-Star slugger pushed his home run streak to four straight games on Friday, collecting no. 50 on an eighth-inning fastball from the Reds’ Sal Romano.

It’s just the latest of a long line of accomplishments for the 24-year-old infielder. Entering Friday’s series opener against Cincinnati, the first-time All-Star carried a .266/.366/.590 batting line with a league-leading 49 homers, 113 RBI, a .956 OPS and 4.9 fWAR through 648 plate appearances. Among those who are still rounding out their rookie seasons in 2019, he ranks first in home runs and fWAR by a long shot: the White Sox’ Eloy Jiménez is second in home runs with 28 dingers, while the Astros’ Yordan Álvarez plays second fiddle in fWAR with 3.7 Wins Above Replacement.

Even more remarkable: Alonso is the second rookie in MLB history to deliver at least 50 home runs in a single season. The first? Aaron Judge, who clubbed a jaw-dropping 52 homers for the Yankees in 2017.