Yankees keep division hopes alive on Tanaka's 15-strikeout gem

NEW YORK (AP) Masahiro Tanaka struck out 15 over seven innings, his highest total since coming to the major leagues, and the playoff-bound New York Yankees beat the Toronto Blue Jays 4-0 Friday to remain on the edge of contention in the AL East.

Already assured no worse than hosting a wild-card game against Minnesota, New York began the day three games behind AL East-leading Boston with three games left, The Yankees could take the division only by beating the Blue Jays both Saturday and Sunday, having Boston lose three in a row to Houston and then defeating the Red Sox in a tiebreaker game Monday at Yankee Stadium.

Tanaka (13-12) retired his first 14 batters before Ezequiel Carerra reached on an infield single up the middle just past Tanaka's glove. Second baseman Starlin Castro made a backhand stop with a dive and threw off-balance from his knees, but Carerra easily beat a one-hop throw.

Pitching on six days' rest, Tanaka had a sharp slider and splitter, dominating a team that battered him for eight runs and three homers at Toronto on Sept. 22. He allowed three hits and walked none.

His strikeout total was three shy of his professional big league high, set for the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles against the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks in Japan's Pacific League on Aug. 27, 2011.

A right-hander who turns 29 on Nov. 1, Tanaka had a 4.74 ERA this season and allowed 35 homers - 10 more than his previous major league high. He is 52-28 in four seasons with the Yankees and has the right to become a free agent and give up $69 million in the three years remaining on his Yankees contract.

David Robertson pitched a hitless eighth, and Dellin Betances allowed a hit, wild pitch and walk in the ninth. Aroldis Chapman got three straight outs to complete the four-hitter for his 21st save in 25 chances.

New York loaded the bases with one out in the first against Joe Biagini (3-13). Castro singled in a run with a dribbler between the mound and third that went for an infield hit, and Greg Bird hit a sacrifice fly.

Aaron Judge singled in a run in the fifth for his 113th RBI, and Bird added a run-scoring single in the sixth. Bird has eight homers and 25 RBIs in 27 games since returning in late August following ankle surgery.

Yankees keep division hopes alive on Tanaka's 15-strikeout gem
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