SEATTLE — Before playing against him, Robinson Cano’s only opinion of Masahiro Tanaka came from what he saw on television.
After seeing him up close, Cano could make a full assessment. “He’s filthy,” Cano said.
Seattle had no answers for the New York Yankees newest star. Tanaka struck out 11 and became the second pitcher in the majors with 10 wins, throwing a complete game for the Yankees in a 4-2 victory over the Seattle Mariners.
Tanaka (10-1) won his fourth straight start. He allowed six hits, walked one and leads the AL with a 2.02 ERA. He tied for the wins lead with Toronto’s Mark Buehrle, who is 10-2.
Tanaka was on the verge of possibly his most impressive performance of the season before giving up a two-run homer to Cano in the ninth inning that ruined the shutout.
That only made Tanaka more determined to finish off his second complete game of the season. He struck out Kyle Seager and Logan Morrison to close out the victory.
“He was pretty damn good. His secondary stuff was pretty good. His command was outstanding,” Seattle Manager Lloyd McClendon said. “Our guys battled their tails off all night, but he made exceptional pitches.”
Seattle lost consecutive games for the first time since late May and the news didn’t get any better postgame.
After placing first baseman Justin Smoak on the 15-day disabled list with a strained quad earlier in the day, he was joined after the game by outfielder Michael Saunders.
Bothered recently by a sore shoulder, Saunders landed on the DL with inflammation in his right shoulder. A corresponding roster move will be made by the Mariners on June 12. Neither likely would have helped much against Tanaka.
Tanaka has allowed only four earned runs in the past 29 2-3 innings and hasn’t given up more than three earned runs in any start.
That number would be less if not for Cano hitting his third homer of the season — and first at Safeco Field — in the ninth. James Jones reached on an infield single with one out and Cano hit a drive out to left-center on the first pitch.
Cano had three homers by April 10 last season with the Yankees. His shot was his first since May 21 in Texas.
“That’s what you want. You want to get the first one in,” Cano said. “It was good. Hopefully it will continue and I’ll get some more.”
Seattle rarely had chances against Tanaka. It took the Japanese rookie 15 pitches to get through the first two innings and 26 pitches setting down the first nine Mariners in order.
Seattle got baserunners in the fourth when Jones and Seager singled, but the threat ended when Morrison struck out on a check swing.
It also started a strikeout binge from Tanaka. Beginning with Morrison, six of the next seven outs came via strikeout.
Tanaka also wiggled out of trouble in the eighth after Mike Zunino’s double and Brad Miller’s single. Just as movement started in the Yankees bullpen, Cole Gillespie lined out and Miller was doubled off first base to end the inning.
“Obviously I wasn’t very happy about that home run, but at the end I’m pretty satisfied I was able to go all nine innings tonight,” Tanaka said through an interpreter.
New York’s Jacoby Ellsbury extended his hitting streak to 15 games with an RBI single in the third.
Two innings later, with Seattle starter Chris Young (5-4) struggling, Mark Teixeira hit a three-run homer that barely cleared the wall in right-center field. The game-breaking shot was Teixeira’s 11th homer of the season.
Young lasted only five innings for the second straight start. “I needed to keep us close, give us a chance to win and I didn’t do it,” he said.
(TIM BOOTH, AP Sports Writer)