Yankees starter Masahiro Tanaka went above and beyond the call of duty during Saturday’s 2-1 loss to the Rays. He held the Rays scoreless through five innings and had struck out both Austin Meadows and Tommy Pham in the top of the sixth when Ji-Man Choi roped a double out to left field. With a one-run lead to protect, Tanaka induced a first-pitch groundout from Yandy Díaz, but things didn’t go quite as expected: the ball ricocheted off of his right leg, then caromed back toward first base for an easy 1-3 putout.
It’s a play that might not have worked quite so perfectly if the ball hadn’t struck Tanaka’s shin at just the right angle. Unfortunately for the pitcher, it was also one of the hardest-hit batted balls he’d allowed all year — and one that left a definite contusion on his leg. He exited with a trainer and did not return for the seventh inning, when Tommy Kahnle stepped in for the starter and gave up the tying run on a Brandon Lowe solo shot.
For now, however, it doesn’t seem as though the Yankees have much to worry about. X-rays returned negative for any fractures, and Tanaka is likely to make a full recovery well before his next scheduled start. So far this season, the 30-year-old righty is 3-3 through 10 starts with a 3.09 ERA, 2.1 BB/9, and 8.1 SO/9 across 58 1/3 innings.
The Yankees, meanwhile, are now 27-17 following Saturday’s loss and sit just half a game behind the Rays for first place in the AL East.
Just one week after Taylor Cole and Felix Peña tossed a combined no-hitter against Seattle, Mariners right-hander Mike Leake worked on his own perfect game through eight innings against the Angels.
It was an ambitious form of revenge, and one that Leake served up perfectly as he held the Angels scoreless in frame after frame. He sprinkled a handful of strikeouts throughout the first eight innings, catching Matt Thaiss on a called strike three in the third and getting two whiffs — called strikeouts against both Brian Goodwin and Shohei Ohtani — in the fourth.
The Mariners, meanwhile, put up a good fight against the Angels, backing Leake’s attempt with 10 runs — their first double-digit total since a 13-3 rout of the Orioles on June 23. Daniel Vogelbach led things off in the fourth with a three-run homer off of reliever Jaime Barria, then repeated the feat with another three-run shot off Barria in the fifth. Tom Murphy and J.P. Crawford helped pad the lead as well with a two-RBI single and two-RBI double, respectively.
In the ninth, with just three outs remaining, the Angels finally managed to break through. Luis Rengifo worked a 1-1 count against Leake, then returned an 85.3-m.p.h. changeup to right field for a base hit, dismantling the perfecto and the no-hitter in one fell swoop. Leake lost control of the ball following the hit, issuing four straight balls to Kevan Smith in the next at-bat and giving the Angels their first runner in scoring position. Still at a pitch count of just 90, however, he induced the next two outs in quick fashion and polished off the win with a triumphant eight-pitch strikeout against Mike Trout for the first one-hitter (and Maddux) of his career.
Had Leake successfully closed out the perfecto, it would’ve been the first of his decade-long career in the majors and the first the Mariners had seen since Félix Hernández’s perfect game against the Rays in August 2012. For their part, the Angels have yet to be on the losing end of a perfecto. The last time they were shut out in a no-hitter was 1999, at the hands of then-Twins pitcher Eric Milton.