NEW YORK — On a day of prime pitching in the Big Apple, Masahiro Tanaka did more than his part.
Tanaka bested Max Scherzer, Stephen Drew hit two solo home runs and the New York Yankees beat the Washington Nationals 6-1 the night of June 9 for their seventh straight victory.
“Obviously, I knew who I was going up against today,” Tanaka said through a translator.
The top mound performance in town, however, came about 10 miles away from Yankee Stadium. Over at Citi Field, Giants rookie Chris Heston threw a no-hitter against the New York Mets.
“I did hear about that right at the end of the game, so it’s quite an accomplishment for a young pitcher,” Yankees Manager Joe Girardi said.
And quite a nice night for pitching in New York, right? “Yes, it was,” he said.
A two-out throwing error by shortstop Ian Desmond in the seventh inning broke a 1-all tie. New York went on to match its longest winning streak since 2012.
Bryce Harper hit his 20th home run for the Nationals, who have lost nine of 11. Washington fell in its first trip to Yankee Stadium since 2009.
Tanaka (4-1) gave up one run and five hits in seven innings, walking none and striking out six. No one on the Nationals had ever batted against him and it showed with several timid, late swings.
Tanaka made his second start since wrist and forearm ailments put him on the disabled list. No ill effects, apparently.
“I think he enjoys the stage. I do,” Girardi said. “I think that’s one of the reasons he came to New York too, because I think he likes the competition and the excitement of pitching here.”
Scherzer (6-5) kept pace with Tanaka until the seventh. “You always want to face the best,” Scherzer said. “You don’t measure yourself against the worst.”
With two outs and runners on first and second, Alex Rodriguez hit a hard grounder in the hole and Desmond made a dive to stop it. Desmond threw from one knee, trying to get a forceout at third, but the toss hit runner Ramon Flores as he neared the bag.
The ball caromed into the dugout for a run on the fielder’s choice.
“I thought it’s an outstanding baserunning play,” Girardi said. “You tell a guy to read the fielder that’s in front of you and kind of try to get in the way, in a sense, of the throw — like Reggie (Jackson) used to.”
Reliever Matt Thornton gave up a two-run single to Brian McCann and an RBI single to Carlos Beltran.
Drew’s homer in the third marked his 1,000th career hit, and he homered again in the eighth. He has four multi-homer games lifetime, and also had one June 5th.
Drew began the day batting .168. “It is what it is,” he said. “It’s a numbers game and in April I did have some great at-bats and nothing for it.”
Harper homered in his first game at Yankee Stadium, hitting a tying drive to center field in the fourth. The shot landed near Monument Park — before batting practice, Harper toured the area, checking out the plaques and tributes to Mickey Mantle, Babe Ruth and other Yankees greats.
Leading off the seventh with the score tied, Harper switched up his strategy and tried to bunt on a 1-2 pitch, but fouled it off for strike three.