Forgettable playoffs tune-up for Masahiro Tanaka, Toronto routs Yankees

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BUFFALO, N.Y. – As it looks now, the Yankees will be handing the ball to Masahiro Tanaka in Game 2 of their opening round best-of-three playoff series.

He’d follow Gerrit Cole, starting the playoff opener.

And the veteran Tanaka would either be pitching to clinch the series, or to save the Yankees from swift postseason elimination.

Nothing is official, of course.

But manager Aaron Boone has an appreciation for Tanaka’s clutch factor and unflappable nature, putting the right-hander in that category of players who are “not overwhelmed” by any situation.

He also owns a 1.76 ERA in eight postseason starts.

Tanaka’s ability to make fast adjustments between starts is another signature trait, something he might have to rely on before next week.

Wednesday at Sahlen Field was Tanaka’s final tune-up before postseason, a messy 14-1 loss to the Blue Jays that was not entirely of his doing.


Before it was over, the Blue Jays would tally eight times in the sixth, forcing backup catcher Erik Kratz to break out his knuckleball for the eighth inning.

It’s the second time Kratz has pitched in a game on this road trip.

As he did against the Red Sox Sunday, Kratz gave up just one run on a homer by Danny Jansen, his second of the game.

In his shortest start since Aug. 18, Tanaka lasted four innings and the Yankees committed three errors behind him.

Two of the five runs against Tanaka were unearned, due to catcher Gary Sanchez’s errant first-inning pickoff throw and a bobble/rushed throw by Gleyber Torres on a play that should have ended the third inning.

Tanaka also yielded eight hits and three walks, while a lineup that produced 12 runs Monday stalled out.

One night after going 8-for-11 with runners in scoring position, the Yanks were miserable in that department, highlighted by the heart of the order.

In the fifth inning, Giancarlo Stanton, Luke Voit and Gleyber Torres stranded the bases loaded with none out against reliever A.J. Cole, who made 28 appearances for the 2018 Yankees.


One day after a mix-up prevented Tyler Lyons from entering Tuesday’s eighth inning at Sahlen Field, the veteran lefty was charged with four runs Wednesday in 1.2 innings.

Lyons was named on the lineup cards Tuesday of both the Yankees and Blue Jays but was not listed on the umpires’ card, following his activation through MLB’s system.

Traditional lineup card exchanges do not occur before games, due to the impact of COVID-19 this season.

Still, “ultimately it’s on us, on me to make sure we’re triple checked,” Boone said. “It’s a reminder of how diligent we have to be on this kind of stuff.”

Summoned with the Yanks leading 10-1 over Toronto, Lyons never threw a pitch and was replaced by Zack Britton, who tossed a quick, scoreless inning in an eventually 12-1 win.


Britton hadn’t pitched since last Friday at Boston and had requested to Boone that he be used sometime Tuesday after starter Gerrit Cole.

“I was mentally ready to go in…I wasn’t just sitting down not prepared to pitch at all,” said Britton, wanting to stay sharp heading into postseason, beginning Tuesday.

Britton felt that without any fans in the stands waiting around, it made it easier to properly warm up in the bullpen during a 10-minute delay.

“Normally, they force you to the game mound and kind of rush you through it,” said Britton, who had a prior less-than-ideal experience with the Baltimore Orioles.

“I had a pitcher one time, in front of me, get ejected on a 2-and-0 count,” Britton said. “And I had to warm up.”


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