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Joe Girardi chooses to pair Austin Romine with Masahiro Tanaka

Austin Romine #27 of the New York Yankees

Austin Romine #27 of the New York Yankees returns a pitch to Masahiro Tanaka during a game against the Oakland Athletics at Yankee Stadium on Friday, May 26, 2017 in the Bronx Borough of New York City. Credit: Jim McIsaac

Gary Sanchez hasn’t been overworked lately. He did not start Tuesday night’s game and then had Thursday off as the Yankees were rained out.

But manager Joe Girardi still decided to “rest” Sanchez on Friday night and pair Austin Romine with Masahiro Tanaka.

Girardi said he did it because he didn’t want to start Sanchez on Friday night and Saturday afternoon. But Tanaka had been much more effective this season with Romine behind the plate and Girardi wanted to give the struggling righthander every chance to succeed against the A’s.

It seemed to work. Tanaka struck out 13 A’s in 7 1⁄3 innings, allowing five hits and no walks before exiting a scoreless game. But Tyler Clippard allowed an inherited runner to score with two outs in the eighth and also gave up a run of his own. That made Tanaka the losing pitcher as the Yankees fell, 4-1.

Tanaka had allowed 14 runs and 16 hits, including seven home runs, in 4 2⁄3 innings in his previous two starts, both of which were caught by Sanchez.

Entering Friday night, Tanaka had a 2.45 ERA in five games with Romine catching and a 12.27 ERA in five games with Sanchez catching. Opposing batters had a .206/.254/.355 slash line with two homers in 29 1⁄3 innings with Romine catching Tanaka and a .422/.480/.822 slash line with 10 homers in 18 1⁄3 innings with Sanchez catching him.

Last season, Tanaka’s ERA was 1.94 in seven games with Sanchez and 2.16 in nine games with Romine. In 15 games with Brian McCann, it was 4.17.

Could Romine become Tanaka’s personal catcher? “You could see what happens [Friday night],” Girardi said. “I still consider Gary our everyday catcher and he’s done very well with Tanaka in the past. I figured, ‘Hey, let’s see what happens and we’ll go from here.’ ”

Sanchez, representing the tying run, popped up as a pinch hitter to end the game.

Trainer’s room

Jacoby Ellsbury, who suffered a concussion and neck sprain when he crashed into the wall while making a running catch Wednesday, still was being evaluated. He is on the seven-day concussion disabled list.

“He’s following the [concussion] protocol,” Girardi said. “See how he is and let the doctors and [trainer Steve Donohue] determine what he can do. It won’t be much for a few days. Concussions are too hard to predict. They really are.”

Aroldis Chapman (rotator cuff inflammation) is set to play catch Saturday for the first time since going on the DL on May 14.

Greg Bird (right ankle bruise) ran the bases and is expected to leave Sunday for Tampa to begin a minor-league rehab assignment.

New York Sports