NEW YORK (AP) – Standing off third base for the first time in his big league career, Masahiro Tanaka heard coach Phil Nevin yell for him to tag up when Aaron Judge lofted a 264-foot flyball to Mets right fielder Jay Bruce in the sixth inning of Friday night’s Subway Series opener. The 29-year-old Yankees pitcher dashed home, needing 15 strides to cover the 90 feet to the plate as he tied the score with his first major league run.
It may have been a costly run.
Tanaka felt tightness in both hamstrings and was replaced before the bottom of the inning. The Yankees went on to win 4-1 behind Brett Gardner’s tiebreaking, two-run homer off Jacob deGrom on an eighth-inning changeup, and Giancarlo Stanton’s ninth-inning solo shot against Paul Sewald.
“I feel it right now,” Tanaka, speaking through a translator, said in front of his clubhouse stall a half-hour after the final out. “I think we’ll probably have a clearer picture tomorrow.”
The Yankees, a big league-best 41-18, already lost No. 5 starter Jordan Montgomery to Tommy John surgery on Thursday. Tanaka is 7-2 with a 4.58 ERA in 13 starts.
Tanaka allowed one hit, a home run into the second deck in right by Brandon Nimmo on his second pitch. Just 1 for 24 with a walk and a sacrifice at the plate in his big league career, he reached when his grounder bounced off the heel of first baseman Adrian Gonzalez’s glove for an error. Tanaka took second on Gleyber Torres’ single and advanced when Gardner walked.
“It was shallow, so I wasn’t sure if I was going to go or not,” Tanaka said of Judge’s opposite-field fly.
Tanaka was given an IV after he came out and may be sent for MRIs on Saturday. Manager Aaron Boone wasn’t sure whether Tanaka would miss a start.
“I could see it being either way,” Boone said. “If it’s cramping and that kind of thing, then maybe you dodge a bullet there. But we could look at it tomorrow, and it could be more severe.”
Tanaka missed a turn in September 2015 after straining his right hamstring while running to first after bunting at Citi Field. A National Leaguer for nine of his 12 major league seasons, Boone has a new view about whether the NL should join the AL in adopting the designated hitter.
“I’d be in on that, especially with our team and just how our roster’s built,” he said.
Tanaka, who struck out eight and walked one, was followed for an inning apiece by Jonathan Holder, Chad Green (4-0), Dellin Betances and Aroldis Chapman, who finished the four-hitter for his 16th save in 17 chances. After Chapman hit Nimmo with a pitch and allowed Asdrubal Cabrera’s infield single, the closer limped and was checked by head athletic trainer Steve Donahue. Chapman retired Michael Conforto, Todd Frazier and Bruce in order.
Chapman has been dealing with left knee tendinitis for about three weeks. The knee was wrapped with ice after he saved a game against the Los Angeles Angels on May 25. He said it probably was the most painful Friday.
“But at the end of the day, it didn’t get in the way of me doing my job today,” he said through a translator.
A big league-best 41-18, the Yankees have won 32 of their last 41 games and are 23 games over .500 for the first time since the end of the 2012 season.
The Mets have lost seven straight and 12 of 14, and they have dropped nine straight home games for the first time since 2012. They are 16-34 following an 11-1 start and have just three runs in their last 51 innings.
“We’re not putting runs up at an alarming pace,” said Frazier, playing against the Yankees for the first time since helping them reach the AL Championship Series last year.
A crowd 42,961 filled Citi Field in the first sellout at the ballpark since opening day. The game was the first as Subway Series managers for Boone and Callaway, and Nimmo started it with his first career leadoff homer.
Gardner was hitting .198 with one homer and 10 RBIs through May 8 but is .364 with four homers and 11 RBIs in 21 games since. His home run off deGrom just cleared the wall in right-center.
“0 for four, weeks, and then you get hot for four, five weeks. Just the ups and downs of a season,” he said.
DeGrom (4-1), who leads the NL with a 1.57 ERA, had allowed just three earned runs over his previous eight starts but was just 2-0 in that span and the Mets lost all six of his no-decisions. He allowed three runs – two earned – his first outing of more than one run since April 16.
“Nobody’s happy with what’s going on,” he said.
Stanton’s 15th homer this season was the 22nd of his career at Citi Field, the most among visiting players, and the big league-high 100th home run of the season for the Yankees.
“We’re going to hit way more than that,” Stanton said.
Dave Mlicki, who pitched a complete game for the Mets to beat the Yankees in the first regular-season Subway Series game in 1997, turned 50 on Friday.
Yankees: Judge jammed his left thumb sliding into second base in the first inning. He said he’ll get tested Saturday.
Mets: Closer Jeurys Familia was put on the DL because of a sore right shoulder. … RHP Noah Syndergaard was scratched from Sunday’s start and replaced by RHP Seth Lugo. … OF Yoenis Cespedes, who hasn’t played since May 13 because of a strained right hip flexor, was 0 for 2 with a flyout and groundout as the DH for Binghamton of the Double-A Eastern League at Trenton.
RHP Domingo German (0-4, 5.44) starts Saturday night for the Yankees and LHP Steven Matz (2-4, 3.42), who tries to end the Mets’ five-game losing streak to their Bronx rival.
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