Tanaka passes test with win in return from injury

Sun Sep 21, 2014 5:55pm EDT
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By Larry Fine

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The New York Yankees and Japanese ace Masahiro Tanaka both breathed sighs of relief on Sunday as the right-hander came back from a two-month layoff for an elbow injury to win at Yankee Stadium.

Tanaka, making his first appearance since complaining of elbow pain on July 8, threw all his pitches without discomfort, going five and one-third innings and allowing one run in a 5-2 win over the Toronto Blue Jays as he improved to 13-4.

“It’s been a while," the 25-year-old Tanaka said through an interpreter. "Overall I’m pretty satisfied with how I pitched today.

"I wanted to check to see how well my elbow responded. I’m very relieved. I feel I was able to do all the things that I wanted to do today. It’s pain free."

The victory kept alive New York's slender hopes of snaring a wild card berth, improving the Yankees record to 80-75.

Yankees manager Joe Girardi admitted there was a fear factor in putting Tanaka to the test.

"I think there was probably a little anxiety from the first pitch on," the manager said.

Tanaka was supported by a pair of home runs by Brian McCann and another from Brett Gardner, while Derek Jeter had two hits, a run batted in and a stolen base to the delight of a sold-out crowd of over 48,000.   Continued...

New York Yankees starting pitcher Masahiro Tanaka (19) tips his cap as he leaves the game in the sixth inning against the Toronto Blue Jays at Yankee Stadium. Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports