SEATTLE (AP) -- In an effort not to overstress his arm, the New York Yankees had intended to restrict Masahiro Tanaka to six innings in his return from the injury in Wednesday's game against Seattle.
However Tanaka was so good and so efficient with his pitch count, New York manager Joe Girardi let him go seven, and even had to avoid the temptation to send him back out for the eighth.
"His stuff was sharp today and his ability to move the ball around and expand the zone when he needed to," Girardi said. "It's not an easy lineup. They've got some boys who can hit the ball out of the ball yard and he did a nice job."
Tanaka gave up one run over seven innings in his return from the disabled list, backed by home runs from Garrett Jones and Mark Teixeira and the Yankees completed a three-game sweep of Seattle with a 3-1 victory.
Making his first start in more than a month, Tanaka (3-1) was efficient and overpowering, with a bump in velocity on his fastball that had not been seen yet this season.
Operating on an 80-pitch limit in his return, that was meant to limit Tanaka to six frames at most, but he got through seven innings without even reaching the 80-pitch mark, throwing just 78 pitches in handing the Mariners their fifth straight loss.
Tanaka struck out a season-high nine and had zero walks, going to a three-ball count only twice.
"It is the best outing I've had this season so far," Tanaka said through an interpreter.
Tanaka had not pitched in the majors since April 23 when he went 6 1-3 innings against Detroit. He went on the disabled list five days later with wrist tendinitis and a forearm strain.
"We all wait to see how he feels tomorrow," Girardi said.