Tanaka in vintage form, shuts down Jays

Tanaka in vintage form, shuts down Jays

NEW YORK -- Masahiro Tanaka continued his resurgence for a third straight sharp outing, striking out eight over seven strong innings as the Yankees handed the Blue Jays their fifth straight loss, 6-3, on Monday night at Yankee Stadium.

Stringing together back-to-back victories following an eight-start winless stretch, Tanaka permitted five hits and a walk in a 111-pitch effort. The recent run is accompanied by a spike in velocity; his average fastball has jumped from 91.8 mph over his first 14 starts to 93.5 mph in his past three.

"I think it's something that's coming naturally," Tanaka said through an interpreter. "I just really try to focus on one pitch at a time. I'm just really trying to execute each and every pitch. Sometimes I look up at the board and I'm surprised by myself at the velocity."

Girardi on Tanaka's outing

Darwin Barney's soft seventh-inning RBI single accounted for the only run off the right-hander, who improved to 2-0 with a 1.29 ERA in his past three starts. The Yankees won for just the sixth time in their past 20 games.

"When you put three of them together that are very similar, where his stuff is outstanding, you feel a lot better about where he's at," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said.

Headley was hit by a pitch in the first to force home a run and delivered a two-run double in the eighth off Ryan Tepera. Two more runs scored in the eighth on Ronald Torreyes' tapper back to the mound that resulted in an error, opening up New York's lead.

Backed by GM, Headley plays big role in win

Headley's two-run double

Blue Jays starter Marcus Stroman permitted two runs and five hits over five innings before leaving after 79 pitches with a blister on his right middle finger. Toronto touched Aroldis Chapman for two runs in the ninth, with Ezequiel Carrera and Barney collecting run-scoring hits before Headley made a diving grab for the final out.

Stroman lifted with blister on throwing hand

Headley's catch seals the game

"We can't really dwell on that," said Stroman, whose team has lost nine of its past 11. "We can't really get down on ourselves, just have to do everything in our power to regroup and come here tomorrow to get a win."

The glove fits: Toronto didn't mount much of a threat against Tanaka until the seventh, when Carrera was hit by a 1-2 pitch, stole second base and raced to third as Sanchez's throw sailed into center field. Barney flared a single into shallow left field that broke up the shutout, but Tanaka recovered to get the next two outs, with Luke Maile smashing a 101.9-mph bullet that Tanaka snared on one hop.

Tanaka's defense finishes 7th

"[Tanaka] has been really, really good in the past couple of starts," Sanchez said through an interpreter. "His split is really good, his slider is really good, the curveball. When a pitcher has all those pitches working, usually you have really good results."

Two for one: Dellin Betances has struggled of late, permitting eight runs in his last five appearances (3 1/3 innings, 21.60 ERA), but the Yanks reliever bounced back in the eighth with some help from fellow All-Star Sanchez. Josh Donaldson worked a one-out walk, but the right-hander recovered to strike out Justin Smoak on a 3-2, 99.1-mph heater and Sanchez cut down Donaldson running on the pitch.

Yankees turn two to escape 8th

"We were trying to make something happen," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said in reference to a team that has scored nine runs over its five-game skid. "Smoaky has been on everything and one thing you can do is run against [Betances], most teams do it. We gambled there, tried to make something happen because not a lot has been happening."

Blue Jays starters have allowed at least one run in the first inning during each of the past three games. Toronto has a 6.37 ERA in the opening frame, second-worst in the American League.

Ellsbury's RBI walk

Blue Jays: Left-hander J.A. Happ (2-5, 3.71) will take the mound for the Blue Jays when this series continues Tuesday at 1:05 p.m. ET. Happ has allowed three runs or fewer in all but one of his six starts since coming off the disabled list with a left elbow injury. He appears to have regained his form from 2016, when he won a career-high 20 games.

Yankees: CC Sabathia (7-2, 3.46) will be activated from the disabled list when the Yankees host the Blue Jays on Tuesday, the Fourth of July. Sabathia last pitched June 13 at Anaheim, when he sustained a Grade 2 strain of his left hamstring. He was 5-0 with an 0.99 ERA in his past six starts before being placed on the DL.

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Bryan Hoch has covered the Yankees for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch, on Facebook and read his MLBlog, Bombers Beat.

Gregor Chisholm has covered the Blue Jays for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB and Facebook, and listen to his podcast.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.