With all of Japan watching, Masahiro Tanaka delivered a gem.
The righthander allowed just one run on three hits over six innings Sunday afternoon to lead the Yankees to a 3-1 series-clinching victory over fellow countryman Shohei Ohtani and the Angels at the Stadium.
Tanaka finished with eight strikeouts, two of which came against Ohtani — one in the first inning and one in the sixth. Heading into this series in the Bronx, there was immense anticipation over a potential starting-pitching matchup between Ohtani and Tanaka. But the Angels pushed back Ohtani, the rookie two-way star who’s been the best story in baseball this season.
Japanese fans still got to see their country’s two biggest baseball stars go toe-to-toe, though, as Tanaka faced Ohtani three times before departing.
Ohtani had last faced Tanaka in Japan’s NPB league five years ago. The 23-year-old is now 0-for-13 combined in his career against Tanaka, whose lone run allowed Sunday came on a solo home run from Angels shortstop Andrelton Simmons in the sixth. Ohtani also walked in the fourth.
The Yankees jumped ahead with a three-run third inning, taking advantage of Garrett Richards’ wild afternoon. Richards, the Angels’ starter, lasted just 2.1 innings. He walked five and also threw three wild pitches.
PLAY OF THE GAME
It was a blustery day at the Stadium, and the strong winds nearly made a fool of Giancarlo Stanton in the top of the sixth. With two outs, Luis Valbuena skied a fly ball to right field. Stanton initially tracked back on the high pop, but the wind held the ball up. Stanton adjusted and sprinted forward, laying out for a diving catch that ended the inning. Tanaka looked to the heavens and laughed in bewilderment after Stanton made the play.
The Yankees’ third inning decided this game. Judge led off with a single. Then after a Stanton strikeout, Richards walked three straight batters, the last of which brought home a run. The righthander was then replaced by Jose Alvarez, who plunked Greg Bird to add a second run. Miguel Andujar then capped the scoring with an RBI fielder’s choice.
STAR OF THE GAME
Tanaka, who lowered his season ERA to 4.62.
STAT OF THE DAY
Judge’s third-inning single left the bat at 119.9 MPH, the fastest exit velocity recorded this season in MLB. Since the start of 2017, there have been six batted balls with an exit velocity over 119 MPH. Judge has five of them. Stanton hit the other.
Brett Gardner, who went 3-for-4 to raise his season average above .240 for the first time since April 21.
Stanton, who earned a Golden Sombrero with four strikeouts in four at-bat, his third time this season with at least 4 Ks.
Monday, May 28 vs. Astros, 1:05 p.m.; TV: YES/ESPN