Masahiro Tanaka finally is showing the consistency the New York Yankees need for the stretch run and will look to win his fourth straight start Friday night in the opener of a three-game set at the Texas Rangers on Friday night. The Yankees are 3 1/2 games behind first-place Boston in the American League East after winning two of three in Baltimore.
New York slugger Aaron Judge has cooled off considerably since his dazzling power show in the first half of the season, but he clubbed his 39th homer in Thursday’s 9-1 win to move back into a tie for the AL lead. New York swatted four homers to end a streak of 11 straight series losses in Baltimore and has won five of seven games since it was swept at home by Cleveland to maintain its grip on the top wild card. Shortstop Elvis Andrus has homered four times in four games for Texas - which will enter the series either 1 1/2 or 2 1/2 games out of the second wild card - to join Mike Trout and Jose Altuve as the only players with 20 homers and 20 stolen bases this year. “It’s great company, the two best players in the league right now,” Andrus told reporters. “I‘m really proud of the season I‘m having right now, but it’s not about me.”
TV: 8:05 p.m. ET, MLB Network, YES (New York), FSN Southwest (Texas)
PITCHING MATCHUP: Yankees RH Masahiro Tanaka (11-10, 4.54 ERA) vs. Rangers LH Martin Perez (11-10, 4.87)
Tanaka went seven innings for the third straight start on Saturday, holding bitter rival Boston to one run and five hits. He also permitted one run while striking out 10 in his previous outing against Seattle and has allowed a combined five runs during his three-start winning streak. Tanaka is 0-1 with a 4.50 ERA against the Rangers, but blanked them for eight innings on June 23.
Perez fell to 5-10 after losing his fourth straight start at Minnesota on Aug. 4, but he has turned things around by ripping off six straight wins in as many starts. He has not been overpowering, yielding 31 hits across 26 innings over his last four turns. Perez allowed eight runs in one-plus inning versus the Yankees in 2015, but beat them with six innings of two-run ball last year.
1. Judge is No. 2 on the all-time list for homers by a rookie, behind only Mark McGwire (49).
2. Rangers C Robinson Chirinos has reached base in 22 consecutive games.
3. Yankees C Gary Sanchez, who hit 12 homers in August, returns from a three-game suspension Friday.
PREDICTION: Yankees 6, Rangers 3