Long ball brings Tanaka up short

Just the same, Masahiro Tanaka would have preferred another no-decision. He has had eight of them in his 13 starts this year. An ND is not as good as a victory, but it beats a loss.

Tanaka was hung with an ‘L’ Saturday night as the Yankees fell back to .500 (31-31) and had a five-game winning streak end with a 6-1 setback to the Tigers. Tanaka had not given up a home run in his previous four starts and yielded just six in 12 prior starts, but the long ball did him in this time.

Nick Castellanos led off the second inning with a home run to right-center. The Yankees very nearly matched that in the bottom of the inning, but Chase Headley’s drive into the left field corner that struck the fence at the base of the foul pole and caromed off it like a Spaulding off a stoop was not ruled a homer, even though it appeared to have struck the pole. The call was not overruled after a review, so Headley had to settle for a triple. He scored moments later when Rob Refsnyder broke out of a 0-for-12 slump with a single to center field.

Tanaka got help from his defense in the fourth. With J.D. Martinez on first base after a one-out single, Castellanos hit a long drive that Brett Gardner caught on the warning track after a long run. Martinez had rounded second base and tried to scamper back, but shortstop Didi Gregorius’ relay to first base doubled him off to end the inning.

Tanaka had no such luck in the fifth. He was touched for singles by Justin Upton and Jose Iglesias before Ian Kinsler slammed a first-pitch fastball to left for a three-run home run. Jacoby Ellsbury came to Tanaka’s aid in the sixth inning with a dazzling, running catch against the wall in left-center to rob Victor Martinez of an extra-base hit.

Kinsler did more damage in the seventh. After Tanaka departed after giving up a one-out single to James McCann, Kirby Yates allowed an infield single to Iglesias and a two-run double to Kinsler.

Unlike Tanaka, Tigers starter Justin Verlander was not victimized by the long ball, not even by Alex Rodriguez, who had homered off the former American League Most Valuable Player and Cy Young Award winner five times in his career and in each of his previous four regular-season games against him. That included A-Rod’s 3,000th career hit June 19 last year. Rodriguez was 0-for-3 with a strikeout against Verlander Saturday night.

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