A rotation in need of a few positive vibes got some Tuesday night.
The bats and bullpen were another matter.
Masahiro Tanaka looked very much like his dominant pre-injury 2014 self but the Yankees, who earlier in the day disclosed Nathan Eovaldi could be lost for the season, failed to get much going offensively in a 2-1 loss to the Orioles in front of 30,785 at the Stadium.
"It's a big blow that he's not in our starting rotation anymore," Tanaka said through his translator. "That said, we starting pitchers and everybody else have to try to do our best in order to pick him up."
Tanaka, up and down much of the season and with a 4.66 ERA his previous three starts, did his part, allowing one run and six hits in eight innings.
"He was great tonight," manager Joe Girardi said. "You can't ask for anything more."
But Tanaka's replacement, lefthander Chasen Shreve, whom Girardi went to with Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller unavailable, surrendered a leadoff homer to Chris Davis in the ninth to sink the Bombers (77-60). The Yankees fell 1 1/2 games behind the Blue Jays, who won, 5-1, in 10 innings in Boston.
"It's very tough, Tanaka was outstanding today," said Alex Rodriguez, whose 30th homer in the sixth tied the score at 1. "In a tight race, you're going to win some tight games, you're going to lose some tough ones. It's just one game."
Shreve fell behind Davis 2-and-0 before he sent one to left-center for his 41st homer.
"He hits the low ball well," Shreve said. "I was just trying to get back in the count. I didn't want to walk the guy, the first hitter of the inning. He ended up just connecting with it."
Zach Britton worked a scoreless ninth for his 31st save as the Orioles (66-72) won for only the fifth time in their last 21 games.
Tanaka, who lowered his ERA to 3.57, walked one and struck out 10, surpassing his season high of nine. Though the Yankees have tried to avoid pitching him on regular four days' rest this season, Tanaka lobbied to pitch Sunday against the Blue Jays (Girardi said after the game he had not made a decision).
"I'm ready to go," Tanaka said. "I'd like to be out there."
The righthander, who didn't allow a hit until two outs in the fifth, allowed his only run in the sixth when Ryan Flaherty led off with his eighth homer of the season to give the Orioles a 1-0 lead.
A-Rod came back in the bottom half, driving a full-count 98-mph fastball from starter Kevin Gausman to left, tying it at 1. It was the 40-year-old DH's fourth homer in five games and gave him 3,056 hits, sending him past Rickey Henderson into sole possession of 22nd place on the all-time list. It also gave him 15 seasons with at least 30 homers, tying him with Hank Aaron for most 30-homer seasons in MLB history.
"It's great, I didn't have much expectations," A-Rod said of the season.
That was all for the Yankees' offense, which went 0-for-3 with runners in scoring position and stranded seven.
Tanaka was perfect through four innings before walking Davis to lead off the fifth.
Gardner still hurting.Brett Gardner sat a second straight game with a sore left shoulder, which occurred Saturday when he crashed into the wall in left making a catch.
"He got an injection for the shoulder prior to [Monday's] game just to calm it down," general manager Brian Cashman said.
Gardner did not take BP on Tuesday and did not play. "I fully expect to be in there tomorrow," Gardner said afterward.