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BOSTON - New York Yankees starters failed to record a complete game in all of 2016 - the first time in franchise history that's happened.
Masahiro Tanaka ended that slump this season before April was up.
Tanaka pitched a three-hitter to outduel Chris Sale and earn his first shutout since 2014, and the Yankees beat Boston 3-0 on Thursday night.
Tanaka (3-1) struck out three and threw only 97 pitches for his fifth career complete game - his first since Aug. 15, 2015, which was also the last for New York.
"I knew that we were facing a good pitcher in Chris Sale. Knew how important one run could be, so I tried to go out there and put up zeroes," said Tanaka, who earned his 10th win in his last 11 decisions dating to last season. "A lot of people thought Chris Sale had the upper hand, the way he was pitching."
Tanaka retired the last 14 batters he faced and only allowed one runner to reach second base as the Yankees earned their fifth straight victory over the rival Red Sox. Aaron Hicks had two hits and scored twice, and Matt Holliday had two hits and two RBIs.
Sale (1-2) nearly matched Tanaka most of the way, allowing only one unearned run over the first eight innings before giving up three straight singles to start the ninth, when the Yankees added two more runs.
"We had a chance going into the ninth," he said. "I just completely took the wind out of the sails."
Yankees pitching coach Larry Rothschild said Tanaka spoke before the game of the challenge of facing Sale.
"He went toe to toe with Chris Sale," manager Joe Girardi agreed. "He knew he couldn't afford to give up a whole lot of runs. (There was) more pressure on him, in a sense, and he really rose to the occasion."
Sale is 4-2 with a 1.31 ERA in eight career starts against Yankees. ... Jacoby Ellsbury of the Yankees did not reach base for the first time in 26 games stretching to the end of the 2016 season. ... The starters are the top two on the all-time list for strikeout-to-walk ratio since 1900 among pitchers with at least 500 innings pitched. Tanaka had a 4.94 K/BB ratio entering the game, and Sale's was 4.83.
Yankees: INF Didi Gregorious was the designated hitter in a 10:15 a.m. intrasquad game in Tampa. He got four at-bats: two groundouts and a lineout before homering to right off RHP Juan De Paula in his last at-bat.
Red Sox: 2B Dustin Pedroia returned after missing three games and a rainout after being spiked in the left leg by Baltimore's Manny Machado.
Yankees: Return home to open a three-game series against the Orioles. CC Sabathia (2-1) pitches for New York against Baltimore's Kevin Gausman (1-2).
Red Sox: Welcome the World Series champion Chicago Cubs to Fenway Park for the first time since 2014. Drew Pomeranz (1-1) will face Jake Arrieta (3-0).
Neither set-up man the Red Sox traded for under president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski, Tyler Thornburg and Carson Smith, is throwing off a mound presently.
Smith, on his way back from Tommy John surgery, felt soreness after throwing a bullpen session and is back to doing long toss.
"He’s had to slow down," Sox manager John Farrell said Thursday. "Once he got on the mound with some aggression and good intensity, was throwing the ball well. And as a result there’s been some soreness that has kind of reared its head. So have had to back him off, back into long toss, he’s thrown out to about 110 feet here today. We’re hopeful that in the very near future that mound progression resumes.
"The unique thing about Tommy John recovery is that every situation is going to be different. In this case, we’ve had to take a step back a little bit and get back to flat ground."
Smith is in Boston as part of a previously scheduled meet-up with the team, Farrell said. When the season began, Smith was rehabbing in Florida. He was put on the 60-day disabled list on Thursday, a formality that opened up a 40-man roster spot for new acquisition Chase d'Arnaud.
Smith was put on the disabled list on April 3, so he can return June 2 at the earliest, but may now need more time.
Thornburg (right shoulder impingement) is building up his long-toss distance.
In other injury news, Brock Holt (vertigo) may begin a rehab assignment with Triple-A Pawtucket on Friday or Saturday, Farrell said.