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Tanaka twirls four-hit gem as Yankees blank Mets

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The Canadian Press
5/14/2014 10:55:20 PM
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NEW YORK -- Masahiro Tanaka has been every bit the ace the New York Yankees went shopping for last winter.

Tanaka pitched a four-hitter for his first major league shutout and the Yankees got home runs from Yangervis Solarte and Mark Teixeira on Wednesday night, snapping a four-game skid with a 4-0 victory over the Mets.

"Overall, I think that today was my best day," Tanaka said through a translator.

Brian Roberts tripled twice and the Yankees finally beat their crosstown rivals after dropping six straight meetings.

The Mets took all four Subway Series games last year and won two slugfests in the Bronx this week. Back home at spacious Citi Field, however, their bats went silent again.

"You asked me about the home run barrage? We hit three of them tonight. They were just in the wrong park," manager Terry Collins said about spacious Citi Field.

Tanaka (6-0) overwhelmed the Mets with his vast assortment of pitches while spoiling Rafael Montero's big league debut. Montero, the latest to arrive in a line of touted Mets pitching prospects, threw six competitive innings but was no match for the $155 million rookie from Japan.

"In some ways, this is a David-and-Goliath matchup. One guy's never lost and the other guy's never pitched," Mets general manager Sandy Alderson said before the game. "So, it's interesting. We'll see how many rocks Rafael's got."

Not enough.

Tanaka is 34-0 combined in Japan and North America over his last 42 regular-season starts. He did lose Game 6 of the Japan Series last year -- before earning a save in Game 7.

"I just go up there and basically try to win every single game," Tanaka said.

The right-hander struck out eight and walked none, throwing 114 pitches during his first complete game in the majors. He lowered his ERA to 2.17 and gave the Yankees' taxed bullpen a much-needed break.

"I knew what was coming, but I couldn't hit it," Daniel Murphy said. "He's commanding all his pitches to all zones. The splitter is the equalizer. You don't see it that much, someone using it in any count like that."

Tanaka became the first Yankees rookie to begin his career 6-0 as a starter since Hall of Famer Whitey Ford went 9-0 in 1950. That sort of dependability has been sorely needed, with the Yankees already missing CC Sabathia and two other injured starters.

"He's been special," manager Joe Girardi said.

Tanaka even singled in the ninth inning for his first major league hit -- giving him one more than Mets pitchers have in 64 at-bats this season.

Asked what the highlight of the night was for him, Tanaka smiled.

"The first hit," he said, kidding.

Girardi said Tanaka's teammates "loved it" and gave the pitcher some good-natured ribbing.

"When you look at it, he's not that far removed from hitting," Girardi said. "He's got an idea. He wears a shin guard."

Montero (0-1) allowed three runs and five hits. He struck out three and walked two after getting called up from Triple-A Las Vegas to step into the rotation slot previously held by Jenrry Mejia, who was moved to the bullpen.

The slim right-hander fanned Derek Jeter in the third for his first strikeout, but was hurt by his defence an inning earlier. With a runner on first and Tanaka on deck, left fielder Eric Young Jr. made an ill-advised dive in trying to catch Roberts' sinking liner with two outs.

The ball got past Young and to the wall, allowing Solarte to score as Roberts cruised into third with his first triple.

Solarte, the AL's leading hitter, sent a solo homer to right in the fourth. He has 23 RBIs in his rookie season, tops on the team.

"He just keeps thrilling us all, in a sense," Girardi said.

Teixeira lifted Montero's second pitch of the sixth to right-centre for his eighth home run and seventh in his last 15 games.

Jeter's infield single, a dribbler that barely travelled 20 feet out in front of home plate, scored Brett Gardner in the seventh.

"I knew that we were in a little funk, losing four in a row, and I also knew that we hadn't won a Subway Series in a while. So yes, I did want to go out there and try to get a win for us," Tanaka said.

NOTES: Yankees RF Carlos Beltran (right elbow) was still unavailable but reserve outfielder Ichiro Suzuki (back) was feeling better, Girardi said. ... Sabathia had his sore right knee drained and the Yankees hope he can return as soon as his 15-day stint on the disabled list is up, Girardi said. Sabathia was examined by Dr. James Andrews and is receiving treatment. ... The Mets plan to commemorate Jeter's final regular-season Subway Series game Thursday.

Masahiro Tanaka (Photo: The Canadian Press)

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(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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