Results tagged ‘ Masahiro Tanaka ’

“You’ve got to look at every avenue you can to improve your club”


Photo: New York Yankees

Joe Girardi was at Yankee Stadium this morning, joining David Cone and broadcaster Michael Kay along with more than 250 volunteers to help the USO create comfort packages for active duty service members.

While taking a 10-minute break from the assembly line, Girardi met with several reporters for a wide-ranging discussion, touching upon many of the topics that will develop over the weeks to come. Here are some of the highlights:

On general manager Brian Cashman saying he is ‘open to anything’:

“I think we’re always trying to figure out ways to improve the club. Sometimes it’s not necessarily through the free agent route, it can be through trade routes. We had some success in the trades that we made last year in acquiring Didi [Gregorius] and acquiring Justin Wilson and how big of a role that they played in our club. I think we’re going to continue to look at that. Obviously I like the guys on our club. I love how hard they played for us, but the goal is to win and win a World Series. I think when you talk about that, you’ve got to look at every avenue you can to improve your club.”

On needing a right-handed bat if they don’t retain Chris Young:

“I think balance is extremely important in a lineup. Obviously we had switch-hitters in the lineup. We lost a big one in Tex down the stretch. That was something that hurt us against left-handed pitching. I think a right-handed bat can help.”

New York Yankees' Brett Gardner, right, is congratulated by Alex Rodriguez after scoring against the Oakland Athletics during the fifth inning of a baseball game Thursday, May 28, 2015, in Oakland, Calif. Gardner scored on a sacrifice fly by Rodriguez. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)

On Brett Gardner’s lingering injuries:

“You can look at it, he got hit in April I believe it was and that’s when it first started. May, June, July were all great, and he comes out and has that day against Toronto. Obviously everyone is dealing with something and you try to balance. It’s like, all these things that come across my desk on a daily basis, you’re saying, ‘OK, is this guy healthy enough to play? We need him out there.’ Those are things that you have to balance. It wasn’t just Brett. There were a number of guys that we had to deal with during the course of the year. Pitchers that we had to deal with, position players. You just try to balance it the best way you can.”

On talking to CC Sabathia:

“I have. He sounds great. Obviously I’m proud of how he stepped up and went and got help. He was pitching really well at the end of the season for us. Hopefully this continues to help and he has a great season for us next year.”

On the chances of Sabathia not being one of the starters:

“If he’s pitching the way he was at the end of the year, I don’t see that. I see him in our starting rotation. Obviously there’s going to be a number of people that are vying for those five spots. We have [Masahiro] Tanaka coming off that little minor elbow surgery that he’s coming off of that we’re going to have to deal with and see where he’s at. We expect him to be back on time. We were in a situation last year where we had to watch innings for certain guys. If he’s pitching well, he’s going to be in our rotation.”

On surprise over Tanaka’s surgery:

Masahiro Tanaka“He really didn’t have a lot of treatment on it, no. Guys sometimes, adrenaline can get them through a lot of different things. Like I said, guys are used to feeling some things during the course of the season and they play through it. That’s just the way it is. There’s a number of players at the end of the year that you don’t really hear a whole lot about that go have surgery, just to get some things tidied up. It didn’t keep him from making a start, it was never an issue. It really never came across my desk that he was having a lot of problems. It wasn’t what I expected at the end of the year. I didn’t go into the last week of the season saying I knew he needed surgery, because I didn’t.”

On Alex Rodriguez’s World Series TV experience:

“I think he did a good job. It’s not easy. The first time you do it, it’s actually somewhat stressful. And in an arena where he’s usually comfortable, at a ballpark, it’s a whole lot different when those lights go on and you’re expected to say something that’s insightful and not embarrass yourself, so I think he did a good job.”

On the Mets:

“I think they did a tremendous job, and their young players stepped up and pitched extremely well. Their offense got hot at the right time of the season. You don’t necessarily need motivation from outside sources. Our guys are motivated from within the organization, extremely motivated from within, and that’s why we put the uniform in.”

On if New York is a Mets city now:

“That’s always going to be a debate. Every year that’s going to be a debate. The bottom line is, we live in a great baseball city. That’s the bottom line. You have two teams that, there are high expectations moving forward, which I think is great. The play on the field determines which team is playing the latest and which team is talked about the most.”

On Dustin Ackley and Rob Refsnyder at second base:

“We’re going to have to see how the roster shakes out. I thought Ref did a pretty decent job at the and of the year for us. Especially when he didn’t play for 18 or 19 days, which was really pretty amazing. Lets just see how the offseason goes and we’ll go from there.”

Justin WilsonOn the Francisco Cervelli-Justin Wilson trade, one year ago:

“I think one of our strengths of our team was our bullpen and Cervy, if he was here, he would have gotten playing time but then again, Brian McCann would have been our everyday catcher. So, I think it worked out well for both clubs. Justin Wilson was extremely important to us and was a big part of our strength. We felt if we had the lead after six innings we were going to nail it down. And it wasn’t necessarily I couldn’t just shuffle those guys and put them in any order; they all did the job, so, it worked out well for both clubs.”

On Gary Sanchez, and the Yanks’ catching situation:

“I’m watching. My thought is it will be [Brian] McCann and [John Ryan] Murphy, but who knows what’s going to happen in the offseason, what you decide to do. The young man (Sanchez) had a really good year, made a lot of improvements. Played extremely well in the Fall League, off the charts, so I mean it’s something that we’re going to look at. It’s something that if you have an everyday catcher, you have to weigh the idea: do you want him to play once or twice a week or do you want him to continue to develop his traits? That’s something we’ll have to look at.”

On improving for 2016:

“We were one of 10 teams that made the playoffs. You look at our series with the Mets — and I know it’s during the regular season — and Kansas City, we played pretty well against those clubs. Kansas City, obviously, you look at their club, they played extremely well, but there are going to be changes there. So, yeah, I think we have to make a few tweaks and stay out of that one-game playoff so your whole team can take effect.”

On avoiding the one-game Wild Card playoff:

“I think that’s how we thought last year. I don’t think that’s going to change. I never said: let’s just get in. I really wanted to win our division because there are too many things that can go wrong in a one game playoff, that’s the problem. So, it will be to win our division.”

On the bullpen, and any possibility of dealing Andrew Miller:

“You would like to keep everything intact, but I think you have to weigh: does whatever we do make us better? And if we feel it makes us better, I think we have to do it. Yes, that was a strength of our club, those guys pitched extremely well and were dominant and if we had the lead after six innings, we won ballgames. If we feel it would improve our club, I’m sure we’ll try to make a deal.”

Many questions as Joe Girardi and the Yankees flip the calendar to 2016

New York Yankees manager Joe Girardi signals to his players in the ninth inning of a baseball game against the Atlanta Braves, Sunday, Aug. 30, 2015, in Atlanta. The Yankees won the game 20-6. (AP Photo/Todd Kirkland)

Yankees manager Joe Girardi held his end-of-season press conference this morning at Yankee Stadium. The session ran approximately 35 minutes and covered a variety of issues, recapping the campaign, the early playoff exit and looking ahead to 2016.

There’s lots of questions with this Yankees roster — some which can be answered now, some which will be resolved over the course of the next four months. Pour yourself a cup of coffee and enjoy a 2,500-word rundown of the most important topics that were covered today:

How do you evaluate your own performance?

“With the information in front of me being prepared and the discussions that I had with my coaches, I did what I thought was right every day. The bottom line is we didn’t win, so that’s going to be questioned. I understand that. Hindsight can be 20/20; could have done something different? In saying that, we’re not so sure that would have worked any better. That’s the bottom line. I did the best I could, is the bottom line. People thought that I could have done better and I understand that, so you live with it.”

On players wearing down in the second half:

“The one person I think you worry as much about as any on a club that’s an everyday player is always your catcher, especially if he’s an offensive catcher. What kind of numbers is he going to have in the month of September? I’ll evaluate what I did with Brian McCann this year and maybe see could you do a little bit different next year, that sort of thing, to physically keep him strong, because he’s a huge part of our offense.”

Dellin Betances posted

What happened with Dellin Betances?

“I think he became a little human, that’s all. It’s not like he had a 4.00 ERA in those months. He still pitched pretty well. I know he gave up a run the other day in the playoff game, but you look at the hit, you’re giving up a hit to one of the best hitters in the game, in a sense, when it comes to getting base hits. There were a lot of question marks on me on how much I used Dellin during the course of the season and was I using him more. Does anyone know how many pitches he threw this year compared to last year? I would bet not.

“Does anyone know that he was shut down about the last 10 days of September last year? He threw five more pitches in the regular season this year than last year. I was cognizant of his workload. I studied his workload the year he was in Triple-A and had so much success out of the bullpen. When I look at what happened to Dellin, he had a human month. We’ve seen other great relievers have a human month; really, really good relievers have a human month. When I look at our bullpen, I think a lot of questions were answered.”

How much of Jacoby Ellsbury and Brett Gardner’s second-half issues were injury related?

“Ells felt good. He physically felt pretty good the second half. He did run into the wall and I think it affected his shoulder a little bit, but I would continue to ask him about it. And I know those guys would never make that excuse. Speed guys are going to get beat up as much as anyone. So in saying that, a thing with Brett Gardner, I’ll look at how I used him. Some of the months, he was so good it was unbelievable. And they’re always somewhere in between, usually, their tough months and their good months. But we try to get them rest. I think there was a point where Gardy had three days off in September and I tried to get him a couple of other days off. We try to get these guys rest.”

Were the Yankees right to hold on to their prospects in late July, rather than make a big trade?

“Well, I think when you look at the contributions they made, I think we made the right moves. I know David Price did extremely well in his 10, 12 starts over there. I know Johnny Cueto had some struggles over there. When I look at Severino’s body of work, I think we’re all pretty pleased with what we saw. We’re glad we kept him. I think when we look at Bird’s work, I think we’re pretty pleased and probably glad that we kept him. I look at other players, some of the players who finished in Triple-A – Aaron Judge we think is going to make a big impact, we feel that Gary Sanchez is going to make a big impact after the year that he had and the improvements that he made – so I think the organization made the right decisions not giving up if you want to call them your top prospects, your blue-chip prospects, just for a two-month rental. I think it might have been different in possibly trading those guys if it would have been someone you would have the next five, six, seven years and you knew you were going to be able to keep them.”

Jacoby EllsburyIs there fence-mending needed with Ellsbury after the Wild Card benching?

“There’s a lot of hard decisions that I have to make during the course of the season. At times I sat Gardy for Chris Young. At times I sat Ells for Chris Young. As far as fence mending, that’s to be determined, I guess, as I talk through things with players over the course of the winter. I had to make a decision, and as I told you, it wasn’t an easy decision. I went through all kinds of different scenarios and what these guys had done during the course of the season. It came down to a body of work during the course of the season against left-handers. That’s not an easy decision. Gardy has a pretty substantial contract as well. I have three outfielders that have pretty substantial contracts, and I did what I thought was the best at the time. Did it work out? No. But the question I’m going to get is, if you played Ells would it have been better? Would it have been three runs better? I don’t know that. None of us knows that. If I would have played this guy, would it have been better? That sort of thing. Only time will tell. I thought we had a great conversation that day, and I thought his attitude was great that day. He had the right attitude. No player wants to sit there. Even the guys who knew they didn’t have a chance to start don’t want to sit, they want to be out there, but that’s the way you want it.”

Ever consider benching A-Rod in the Wild Card game and playing Chris Young in right field?

“Alex had been a guy who had been one of our more successful guys against left-handers during the season. No, I did not. I felt like Alex would have to have a big impact for us to win that game.

Expect to have your entire coaching staff back?

“We haven’t even talked about that. I haven’t even been in the office until today. As I said all along, it ends abruptly, it’s very difficult for me. it’s hard for me to watch the other games on TV. I haven’t even thought about that.

If A-Rod and Teixeira are healthy, how can Greg Bird fit on the 25-man roster?

“That’s not an answer I have for you now. I think you have to see how a team is constructed. He played extremely well for us, but I think you have to look at your club.”

With only three free agents (Chris Capuano, Stephen Drew, Chris Young), how can this team be better in 2016 without a big signing or trade?

“If you look at our club, if guys would have had some of the offensive numbers that they had in the first four months in the last two months, I think we substantially would have had more wins. I think it’s possible we would have won our division. I know that didn’t happen and those are reasons that we have to sort out as an organization, probably more me as a manager. If you look at that, we won 87 games. Our division winner won [93]. We had some guys that really had some tough second halves. If they had the same second half as the first half, I think it’s a much different story.”

Aaron JudgeCould Aaron Judge break camp with you?

“Anything’s possible. Sometimes it happens through an injury. My first opportunity was through an injury. And then I went down for 40 days and then came back. That was my opportunity. The one thing with a young player, though, is you don’t want a young player playing only once a week or twice a week when there’s still development that could take place, that would slow that down. That’s always the question that you have to answer. Is he going to thrive in that situation?”

Any chance Rob Refsnyder sees time in right field? Maybe John Ryan Murphy at the infield corners?

“I don’t really see Refsnyder necessarily going back to the outfield. I think we will continue to try to develop him as a second baseman. We believe that his bat is going to play. Could you toy around with playing Murph at a different position one day here? I think you could. I think he’s athletic enough to do it. I think you have to see the makeup of your roster before you necessarily start doing those things. I’m not opposed to doing that. You’ve seen me out of need sometimes do some things that maybe had some of you scratching your head. I never thought I’d put Carlos Beltran at first base, but when my option was him or Ichiro one night, I had to do it. I’m not opposed to doing anything if it has value and I think it’ll help us.”

CC Sabathia

What’s CC Sabathia’s 2016 outlook?

“I think when you looked at his last seven or eight starts, when you looked at his starts with his knee brace, I thought things got better. I did. I thought his ERA was substantially lower. He pitched much better. I think right now you view him as a starter. You see how he physically bounces back again. But I think right now you’re viewing him as one of our starters.”

Will you have to handle Masahiro Tanaka carefully again in ’16?

“If you look at his numbers, and I know it’s a small sample, there really wasn’t a difference when he went on normal rest and had the extra day. We had some physical concerns going into the season and I think we were trying to be proactive in that situation. But I thought he answered the bell pretty well going on normal rest. So that’s something that at times can really shake up your bullpen and shake up what you do. I think inserting a sixth starter every once in a while is not a bad idea, but it becomes somewhat of an up-and-down shuttle when you don’t do that and sometimes you don’t necessarily want to send someone down who’s in your bullpen.”

Should A-Rod even bring a glove to Spring Training?

“You know, I imagine that he’s probably going to be a DH moving forward. That’s something we’ll probably address in the winter as well, because you look at the makeup of your club and could you expect something, but it’s probably mostly DH.”

Rob RefsnyderWhy did you wait so long to give Refsnyder an opportunity?

“There were still some questions marks that had to be answered about him, about playing the position and that sort of thing, because he was young at it and there were shifts taking place and other things taking place and we wanted to make sure that he was completely aware of. The one thing that I’ve realized about playing the infield is that it’s so much different than it used to be. There are so many little things that you have to know. Every player with the exception of the first baseman has to be able to play on the other side of the diamond. That’s a big difference than what it was three or four years ago.

“By doing that (keeping Refsnyder on the big league roster in early August) we probably would have had to release someone, and we weren’t ready to do that. We looked at what Drew had done since the time that we had sat him down in Oakland for those three days. His numbers were pretty good after that. And he got hot at some times and the ballpark played favorable for him and he was playing extremely good defense, so we decided do stick with that. Drew got hurt again and it really allowed Ref to get another chance, and when he was given that chance he grabbed hold of it and ran with it and that’s why he stayed in there.

“Before Drew got hurt, if you remember, there was a 10-day period that he was as hot as anyone on our team, and we were thinking, ‘OK, if he continues to play like this.’ It was unfortunate he got hurt but it opened up a chance for Ref and he took advantage of it.

Why did Gardner stop stealing bases after mid-June?

“There is no answer. Part of it is he wasn’t on nearly as much the second half and teams pay attention to him obviously a lot. But that’s something that probably needs to be addressed because we need that out of him. And that’s something that you look at. Physically, he never really complained about his legs. But physically, sometimes where a guy doesn’t steal as much, maybe they don’t physically feel as good, they’re not going to tell you, they’re not going to ask out of the lineup. The things like I said I gotta look at. As an organization, you have to look at the optimal number of days that you play a guy in a sense to get the most out of him and for him to be the most productive.”

Masahiro TanakaDo you need to add a big-time ace, or is Tanaka your guy?

“In looking at Tanaka, I think he’s a top of the line rotation pitcher. Is he a 1, is he a 2? I don’t know. But I think Sevvy has a chance to be a top-line rotation [pitcher] and I think to me, the most important thing is that during the course of the season, we have five starters that can compete every day and give you a chance to win. That’s the most important thing. Really, to be safe, you better have six or seven.”

Do you need a right-handed bat? 

“We lost a big right-handed bat is what happened to us I think really against lefties a lot. We expect to have Tex back and healthy. And that adds a big right-handed bat. Depending on who your second baseman is, that could add a substantial bat, too, which changes our club.”

What happened to Chasen Shreve?

I think Shreve has a chance to be better because of the struggles he went through and probably learned a lot about himself. For the first five months this guy was really good and was a huge part of our bullpen. And that’s what I’m going to look at. The sixth month, yeah, we gotta figure out what happened. Mechanically there were probably some things that got a little bit off and we gotta teach him and help him get back to his mechanics when things get off, in a sense, but I think it has a chance to really help him.”

Masahiro Tanaka has Grade 1 hamstring strain, will not pitch vs. Blue Jays

New York Yankees starting pitcher Masahiro Tanaka, of Japan, takes batting practice before a baseball game against the Tampa Bay Rays Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2015, in St. Petersburg, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)

With the Yankees preparing for a head-to-head battle with the Blue Jays that could decide the division crown, a sacrifice bunt may have changed the course of their season. Masahiro Tanaka has been diagnosed with a Grade 1 right hamstring strain and will not be available to pitch on Wednesday.

Ivan Nova will make that start instead at Rogers Centre, with Adam Warren and Luis Severino taking the mound in the first two contests. Manager Joe Girardi hopes that Tanaka will just miss one turn through the rotation due to the injury, which occurred during the Yanks’ 5-1 loss on Friday. An MRI revealed the strain.

“It’s frustrating,” Girardi said. “You get concerned whenever your pitchers have to hit and you try to do everything you can to keep them from getting hurt. You prepare them, and something you can’t prepare is that sudden burst that they have to make.”

Tanaka, 26, said that he felt his hamstring grab while leaving the batters box following a second-inning sacrifice bunt. Though he did continue to feel the tightness on the mound, he was able to throw 82 pitches over six innings and had no issues fielding his position.

“I felt strong enough to be able to keep myself on the mound and pitch effectively,” Tanaka said through an interpreter. “If I felt that it was something that I could not have handled, then I would not be in that game.”

Because of that, Tanaka said he agrees with the optimistic timetable of returning to the rotation after missing just one turn. He said that a hamstring injury cost him about a month five years ago in Japan, but that injury was more severe.

“I’m not looking at it as something very serious,” Tanaka said. “The reason I say that is because I hurt it early in the game and felt strong enough to continue.”

Tanaka, who is 12-7 with a 3.38 ERA in 23 starts, said that he lobbied the Yankees to let him pitch on Wednesday despite the injury. Girardi said that Tanaka would be better served to receive treatment for the three days while the Yankees are in Toronto, and so Tanaka will not travel with the team.

“I did tell them that I wanted to pitch on Wednesday,” Tanaka said. “At the same time, I understand their decision. The season is not over. We don’t know when, but I’ll probably be able to pitch again after the Toronto series.”

The Yankees have had past issues with pitchers hitting in Interleague play. In 2008, Chien-Ming Wang injured his right foot while running the bases in a game at Houston, altering the course of his career. Both Girardi and Tanaka said that they have no issue with the idea of pitchers hitting in Interleague games.

“We tell our guys to take it easy in situations, but I’ve often said that one of the reasons they are successful is their competitive nature inside of them,” Girardi said. “They understand the importance of runs, and it’s just hard.”

Nova had been removed from the rotation earlier in the week for performance-based reasons. The right-hander is 6-8 with a 5.14 ERA in 14 starts since returning from Tommy John surgery, and had not been called upon out of the bullpen.

“I think it’s all in the mind,” Nova said. “It’s my mindset. I’ve got to be ready to go; command my pitches and execute every pitch.”

“We’re all playing at being the last team standing”

The Subway Series continues this afternoon here at Citi Field, as Carlos Beltran’s three-run homer has put the Yankees in front early against Noah Syndergaard. Michael Pineda is on the mound for the Bombers.

Playoff picture: The Yankees (80-66) trail the Blue Jays (85-62) by 4 1/2 games in the American League East. Toronto hosts the Red Sox this afternoon. The Yankees lead the Astros (77-71) by four games for the first Wild Card spot.

Baseball Prospectus has the Yankees with a 98.8 percent chance of making the postseason, and just a 5.6 percent chance of winning the division.

“We want to be the division champs,” general manager Brian Cashman said. “We want to get that definitive first series that you can qualify for, but it’s not the only way to accomplish the dream. The dream isn’t supposed to stop at Wild Card or division title. It’s supposed to be that last team standing.”


Clubhouse report

New York Mets fans jeer at New York Yankees relief pitcher Chasen Shreve (45) as he leaves the field in the seventh inning where he gave up a two-run home run to Juan Uribe in a baseball game, Friday, Sept. 18, 2015, in New York. The Mets won 5-1. (AP Photo/Kathy Kmonicek)

The underbelly of the Yankees’ bullpen has appeared softer down the stretch, reducing the impact of what has been trumpeted as one of the team’s strengths. Despite that swoon, manager Joe Girardi said he retains confidence in late-inning arms like Chasen Shreve.

“I still have a lot of belief in Shreve,” Girardi said on Saturday. “I know he’s had his struggles recently, but this guy has pitched really well for us this year. You look at his body of work, not necessarily a snapshot of time and obviously he’s important to us.”

No decision has been made regarding Masahiro Tanaka, who could be asked to pitch on Wednesday at Toronto in what would be his third consecutive start on four days’ rest.

“I think it’s a little bit early to ask, just because it’s a quick turnaround,” Girardi said. “We’ll see how he feels [Sunday] when he plays some catch and maybe does some flat ground.”

While it puts the Yankees at a disadvantage to have Alex Rodriguez on the bench, Girardi reiterated on Saturday that Rodriguez is not an option to play the field. The Yankees had Rodriguez work out at first base earlier this month at Fenway Park and did not like what they saw.

“Let’s not forget that he’s 40 years old, and trying to run him out there for defense, it’s probably not going to be a ton of range,” Girardi said. “It’s something that he’s not comfortable doing. … [In Boston], it just didn’t look right, so we decided not to do it. He doesn’t look comfortable. As much as we thought that maybe it might work, it just didn’t work.”

MLB Network’s three to watch

Steven Souza Jr., Brian McCannSyndergaard is 7-1, 2.15 ERA (17 ER / 71 IP) in ten starts at Citi Field. Meanwhile, he’s just 1-5, 4.47 ERA (29 ER / 58.1 IP) on the road.

Yoenis Cespedes has 17 HR and 42 RBI in just 44 games with the Mets, although he is hitless in his last 13 AB with six strikeouts. Cespedes tied with Chris Davis for the most HR in baseball since the start of August with 17 HR in that span.

Brian McCann was also not in the starting lineup Friday with a lefty on the mound and a day game on Saturday. He’s batting just .111 (2-18 AB) with no XBH in his last 6 games.

On this date

2011: Mariano Rivera records a perfect ninth inning in the Yankees’ 6-4 win over the Twins, his 602nd career save, surpassing Trevor Hoffman’s previous Major League record of 601.

Quote to note

“[The goal is to] win the American League, get into the World Series and win the World Series. It doesn’t necessarily matter which way we go, as long as we finish that off. There might be some accomplishments that everybody in the game can be proud of at a certain level when and if they ever get tagged out, but we’re all playing at being the last team standing, so that’s our interest level.” – Cashman, on winning the AL East vs. the Wild Card

Yanks fall to Mets, lose ground to Blue Jays

Tanaka holds Mets to two runsAmidst regular-season Subway Series stakes that have never been higher, the Mets quelled worries about a September slide by blasting three homers Friday in a 5-1 win over the Yankees, who lost more ground to the Blue Jays in the American League East.

Lucas Duda hit a game-tying homer in the second inning, Daniel Murphy crushed a go-ahead shot in the sixth and Juan Uribe provided some breathing room with a two-run homer in the seventh. It was enough for the Mets — who lowered their magic number to 8 — to retain an eight-game National League East lead over the Nationals with 15 to play, while the Yankees fell 4 1/2 games back of the Blue Jays.

The winner was rookie Steven Matz, who held the Yankees scoreless after a Chris Young sacrifice fly in the first. Matz outdueled Masahiro Tanaka, who allowed the first two of New York’s three homers in front of 43,602, the second-largest regular-season crowd in Citi Field history. MORE

Clubhouse report

— Tanaka’s evening was complete after 82 pitches, and while no decision has been made about bringing him back on Wednesday to face Toronto, Tanaka said he would be game for that assignment. This was Tanaka’s second time back-to-back on four days’ rest, and just the fourth time he has done it all season as the Yankees try to care for his partially torn ulnar collateral ligament.

“I understand that they had to pull me out a little bit earlier today,” Tanaka said. “But, yeah, obviously if they wanted me to go in five days, the fifth day from now, I’ll be ready to go.”

— National League rules took away the designated hitter, but gave the Yankees a couple of late-inning bats to plug in. Jacoby Ellsbury hit for Tanaka in the seventh inning and Girardi saved Alex Rodriguez until the ninth, when he pinch-hit for Brendan Ryan and walked. Girardi said that he toyed with using A-Rod to hit for Ryan in the sixth inning, but did not because Greg Bird was at second base with first base open.

“Even though it’s second base, there is an open base and you could pitch around him,” Girardi said. “And then you’ve got to take Tanaka out and he’s throwing the ball extremely well, so we decided not to.”

— Chasen Shreve was a key contributor to the Yanks’ brilliant bullpen in the first half, but the left-hander has run into a September swoon. Serving up Juan Uribe’s two-run homer in the seventh, Shreve has surrendered six runs over his last five appearances, including three homers. Shreve has made 55 appearances but said he feels fine physically, and that fatigue is not a factor.

“It’s frustrating, because I feel like I had a good year thus far, and there’s no time to make it up now,” Shreve said. “I’ve just got to do damage control and try to finish strong.”

Playoff picture

The Yankees fell 4 1/2 games behind the Blue Jays in the American League East race, as Toronto defeated the Red Sox, 6-1. The Yankees lead the Astros by four for the first Wild Card spot.

Stat so?

The Yankees did not homer on Friday, ending a streak of 11 consecutive games with a homer dating to Sept. 6. That was their second-longest streak of the season (13 games from July 25-Aug. 7).

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Parting words

“To be honest, I didn’t look at the scoreboard one time all night. I could care less what they do. If we want to try to catch them and win the division, we’ve got to play really, really well. Tonight we didn’t play good. I’m not worried about where they’re at. I’m just worried about us. We’ve got to try to even the series up tomorrow. There’s really not enough time left to lose series and win one out of every three or four games. We’ve got to go on a roll and pick things up and start playing better tomorrow.” – Brett Gardner


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