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.