SEATTLE -- Masahiro Tanaka returned from a monthlong stint on the disabled list to throw seven innings of one-run ball as the Yankees swept a three-game series over the Mariners with a 3-1 win on Wednesday at Safeco Field.
Tanaka, pitching for the first time since April 23 due to a strained right forearm, allowed just three hits with no walks and nine strikeouts in an efficient 78-pitch outing as he improved to 3-1 with a 2.76 ERA in six starts this season.
"It was a good outing, but it's just one outing," Tanaka said through an interpreter. "I can't be too high about that. Right now, maybe I'll celebrate today, but starting tomorrow I'll look forward to my next outing and work on my stuff."
"We came here, facing some pretty good pitchers, and did our jobs and scored some runs," Teixeira said. "That was the biggest thing -- that we scored enough runs to win this series."
The American League East-leading Yankees improved to 29-25 with their eighth straight win at Safeco Field dating back to 2013, while Seattle lost its fifth straight in falling to 24-29 overall and 1-6 on this homestand.
"We're in a funk offensively and I'm certain we're going to come out of it," said Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon. "This sounds like a broken record, but it's tough. Tanaka had his 'A' game. He elevated when he wanted to elevate. His split was down and was hard to pick up. He did a nice job against us."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Uprising quelled quickly: The Mariners got something going against Tanaka in the third with a leadoff triple by Brad Miller, followed by an RBI double by Dustin Ackley. But after Mike Zunino struck out, Ackley was gunned down at the plate by Yankees left fielder Ramon Flores when he was sent home by third-base coach Rich Donnelly on a shallow single by Logan Morrison. Thus ended the Mariners' only real opportunity to test Tanaka, who didn't allow a baserunner in his other six frames.
"It's real simple," said McClendon. "We hadn't scored many runs. You have an opportunity to score a run, you send him. It's not like we've been on fire offensively. It was the right thing to do, with the wrong results. The guy made a good throw."
Efficient effort: With Tanaka on a strict pitch count of 80 to 85 pitches, his stuff played much sharper than it did in two Minor League rehab outings. Tanaka found his groove late in the third inning, retiring the final 13 batters he faced following Morrison's single. Tanaka walked none and struck out nine, throwing 78 pitches (58 for strikes) in his first big league start since April 23.
"He looked pretty good to me," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "Obviously, we'll all wait to see how he feels tomorrow, but there's no inkling that his stuff wasn't there. This is the highest velocity that we've seen from him. I think that was good for us, and it's good to have him back." More >
Jones jacks another: Jones has been adjusting to less playing time than he is accustomed to, a direct effect of the years that Alex Rodriguez and Teixeira have enjoyed, but he may have found his stroke. After slugging a three-run homer in the 11th inning of Tuesday's 5-3 win, Jones visited the right-field seats again in the fourth inning on Wednesday for his second homer in less than 24 hours and his third of the year.
"I'm just relaxing when I'm in there, just letting it go and being loose," Jones said. "I'm just trying to contribute. I've been feeling good at the plate, so I'm just trying to stay relaxed and let it fly. I've gotten some pitches to hit and put good swings on them."
Miller time: The Mariners loaded the bases in the bottom of the eighth when Yankees closer Andrew Miller entered with one out and one on and immediately hit Rickie Weeks in the foot and walked Mike Zunino. But after issuing three straight balls to Morrison, Miller came back to strike out Morrison and then got Austin Jackson on a grounder to third to preserve the 3-1 lead.
"It was huge. The close hit-by-pitch started it, but then I kind of lost the strike zone after that," Miller said. "To get Morrison after a 3-0 count was huge. I think they certainly thought they had a chance, and to squash it there was important. I'm glad we found a way."
"His stuff was pretty good. He wasn't leaving a lot over the plate. We did have our chances at that one point, but he worked himself out of it. The ball I almost scored on, the left fielder makes a nice throw. That could have changed things, too. It was just a tough one. He threw really well and you kind of have to hand it to him." -- Ackley, on Tanaka's strong return
"I would have to agree, I think it was the best outing I've had this year so far." -- Tanaka
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS Robinson Cano went 0-for-4 in the game and finished the series 2-for-14 against his former team as his season line dropped to .244/.286/.330, well below his career marks of .308/.356/.494.
Yankees catcher Brian McCann exited Wednesday's game after one at-bat with right foot soreness. McCann grounded out in the second inning against Walker, then was replaced by John Ryan Murphy behind the plate for the bottom half of the frame. McCann is scheduled to have an MRI on Thursday in New York.
"I think it's something on the bottom of my foot, maybe in the arch area," McCann said. More >
WHAT'S NEXT Yankees: Following an off-day on Thursday, right-hander Nathan Eovaldi (4-1, 4.40 ERA) will have the ball on Friday as the Yankees open a three-game weekend series with the Angels at Yankee Stadium. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. ET.
Mariners: Left-hander Roenis Elias (2-2, 3.07 ERA) will be on the mound Thursday night as Seattle opens a four-game series with the Rays to close out an 11-game homestand. Elias is 2-0 with a 3.29 ERA in two starts against Tampa Bay, including six innings of one-run ball in a 4-1 win during the Mariners' three-game sweep at Tropicana Field last week.