In a second consecutive season that is being defined by injuries and disappointment, few things have been more reassuring to the Yankees than the sight of Masahiro Tanaka on the mound.
While the list of the injured expands and the offense shrinks, Tanaka has been one of the most dependable elements of the team. The Yankees scored two or fewer runs in five of their previous eight games and it seems that only a pitching gem can carry them to victory. If the team cannot score more than twice, the only way to win is to hold the opponent to one run.
That was the case Thursday afternoon when the Yankees ended a dismal homestand with a 2-1 victory over the Oakland Athletics. They finished with only two wins in seven games, but felt better going on the road to Kansas City, Seattle and Oakland after a win.
The bullpen, which had its troubles during the week, helped Tanaka by throwing three scoreless innings in relief to preserve a much needed win.
The Yankees’ offense was limited to a run in the second that was helped, in part, by an Oakland error, and a home run by Brett Gardner in the third that broke a tie.
Once the Yankees had the lead, Tanaka held it firm through the sixth. He was replaced in the seventh by Dellin Betances, who was on the mound Wednesday night when the Athletics took the lead in that game. This time he was perfect, setting down the side in order in the seventh, including a strikeout of Stephen Vogt, the A’s right fielder.