SEATTLE -- Masahiro Tanaka threw seven shutout innings and Gary Sanchez homered yet again in the Yankees' 5-0 victory over the Mariners Wednesday afternoon to close the series in Seattle. With its second consecutive win, New York took the three-game set.
"They pitched us well all series," Mariners manager Scott Servais said. "We haven't been shut down like that in quite some time, and if you don't score, it's going to be tough to win."
The Yankees' right-hander earned his second win pitching opposite his former Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles teammate Hisashi Iwakuma. Tanaka scattered six hits, walked one and struck out five in his fourth straight win. The only other time the two starters faced each other was April 17, when the Yankees beat the Mariners, 4-3.
"Well, that's the idea of pitching," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "When you get ahead, you can expand. And I thought he had to really battle early on. His stuff really got good to me in the fourth inning … when he really seemed to settle in. And he got some big plays."
After a rocky start to the game, Iwakuma settled in and only allowed one run beyond the second inning. He gave up three runs on six hits. By pitching six innings, Iwakuma guaranteed his club option for next year by surpassing 162 innings pitched.
"He figures out how to manage through it," Servais said. "You look up and it's still only 3-0, and we're still thinking we've got a chance."
Kyle Seager was out with a sore right foot and Nelson Cruz left the game in the eighth inning with back spasms, which left the Mariners short on power hitters. Even with a quality start from Iwakuma, the Mariners could not salvage the game, as their bats were deadened by Yankee pitching for the second game in a row. Mariners relievers Arquimedes Caminero and Tony Zych allowed a run each to give the Yankees an even more comfortable lead.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Sanchez stays hot: The latest phenom in the Major Leagues was at it again on Wednesday afternoon. Yankees rookie catcher Sanchez, who entered the game with eight home runs in his first 69 Major League at-bats, made it nine in 70 when he blasted the first pitch he saw from Iwakuma into the upper deck in left field.
Sanchez, batting third in the New York lineup, gave the Yankees a 1-0 lead with the mammoth blast, which left the bat at 106 mph and went 420 feet from home plate, according to Statcast™. He added a double and etched his name into the history books with his scalding start. Sanchez is so hot that the Mariners walked him intentionally -- twice.
"I definitely was not expecting that, especially on the last at-bat, because I think there were no outs," Sanchez said through an interpreter. "I thought they'd let me hit, but they didn't." More >
So close, yet so far: The Mariners wasted back-to-back singles by Adam Lind and Leonys Martin in the second inning by stranding them both in scoring position. Martin's line drive missed going over the right-field fence by inches. It left his bat at 108 miles per hour, according to Statcast™, and bounced off the top of the fence to move Lind over to third base. Representing the tying run, Martin then stole second to get into scoring position with just one out. It was his 16th stolen base of the season, the most by a Mariner since James Jones in 2014 (27 stolen bases). But Tanaka got ground-ball outs from Shawn O'Malley and Chris Iannetta to end the inning. The Mariners were 0-for-5 with runners in scoring position.
Slick D pays off: Tanaka got into a spot of trouble in the third inning, but the Yankees infield got him out of the jam. With one out, Norichika Aoki doubled down the left-field line, and the next batter, Seth Smith, worked a walk to bring up Robinson Cano. Cano hit a hard ground ball, but third baseman Ronald Torreyes fielded it and started an inning-ending 5-4-3 double play that allowed Tanaka to keep cruising through the Seattle lineup.
Doubling it up: The Mariners turned a timely double play with two on and one out in the fifth to get out of the inning unscathed. Sanchez reached on a double and Iwakuma walked Starlin Castro. Then Aaron Judge, the big right-handed rookie, came up to the plate. Iwakuma worked ahead, getting to an 0-2 count with two foul balls. Judge hit a ground ball to shortstop Ketel Marte on the third pitch and Marte started the 6-4-3 double play.
"Maybe a little bit, but I think the most important part is they're just a couple games ahead of us in the Wild Card race, and I think today's game was really big for us to get the victory, and more than anything I'm happy that we got the W today." -- Tanaka, when asked if it was special to beat his friend, Iwakuma
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The Yankees win gave Girardi his 800th career victory as the club's skipper. He joins Joe McCarthy (1,460), Joe Torre (1,173), Casey Stengel (1,149), Miller Huggins (1,067) and Ralph Houk (944) on the franchise's all-time list of managers to win at least 800 games.
WHAT'S NEXT Yankees: The Yankees will be off Thursday as they travel back to New York, and they'll start a three-game series against the Orioles on Friday night at 7:05 p.m. ET. Neither the Yankees nor Orioles have announced starters for Friday's game, but it's likely that New York will go with rookie right-hander Luis Cessa (3-0, 4.01 ERA), who had been pitching in relief before throwing six shutout innings against the Angels on Aug. 20 in his first Major League start.
Mariners: The Mariners will travel to Chicago to face the White Sox in a four-game series. The Mariners have not announced an official starter for Thursday, but they will likely activate lefty James Paxton (4-5, 3.53 ERA) from the 15-day disabled list (left elbow contusion) to start. Right-hander Anthony Ranaudo (1-1, 9.42 ERA) will take the mound for the White Sox. First pitch is scheduled for 5:10 p.m. PT.