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NYY@MIN: Tanaka fans nine in dominant outing

It will be tough for Masahiro Tanaka to repeat his month of May. The righty earned American League Pitcher of the Month honors after six starts, posting five wins and a 1.88 ERA. He struck out 42 and walked just six in 43 innings. The Yankees hope he doesn't skip a beat in June.

But aiming to salvage the series finale against the Athletics will be a difficult task, especially considering Tanaka hasn't faced a winning team since May 9 in Milwaukee.

"It's definitely challenging," said Tanaka through an interpreter about facing Oakland, which is going for the sweep and its sixth consecutive victory. "I think it's really important for us as a team to be able to get wins from those types of teams. I'm going to try to go out there and do my best."

He'll look for a struggling Yankees offense to come alive and aid his hot start to the season. Through 11 starts, the team has supplied Tanaka with an impressive average of 5.21 runs in his outings. But over the last seven games, New York has scored just 21 runs, including Wednesday's 7-4 loss.

"I don't feel like I need to go on the mound and do extra just because the offense is in a little bit of a funk," said Tanaka. "I try to do what I always do out there."

He'll face Drew Pomeranz, who like Tanaka has received strong run support (5.53 runs per start) since stepping into the rotation May 7 against Seattle. The lefty allowed just two runs total in his first four starts, before giving up five to the Angels on Friday while tossing a season-high 5 1/3 innings.

Pomeranz, sporting a 2.37 ERA, would like to go deeper into games.

"The walks don't help," he said. "I may just be trying to do too much at that point to make sure I stay in the game, make sure I'm being effective and efficient."

"That's the difference between five innings and 60 pitches and five innings and 90-some pitches," said manager Bob Melvin. "He's walked a few more guys and thrown a few more pitches his last time out."

Pomeranz has walked seven in his last two starts spanning just 9 1/3 innings.

Yankees: Beltran may return to Yanks' lineup Thursday
‬‬‬Carlos Beltran has experienced no further issues with his right elbow and could rejoin the Yankees' lineup as a designated hitter on Thursday, manager Joe Girardi said.

Beltran played his third extended spring training game at the club's Tampa, Fla., complex on Wednesday morning and traveled to New York, according to Girardi, who is hopeful that Beltran will be ready to be activated from the disabled list.

"He could possibly be in the lineup tomorrow," Girardi said Wednesday. "We'll make a decision tomorrow, see how he feels, and he could be in the lineup tomorrow."

Beltran has not played in a Major League game since May 12, when he took himself out of the lineup for a Subway Series game against the Mets because of sharp pain in his right elbow.

Athletics: A's monitoring Crisp, Cespedes closely 
Ongoing neck discomfort kept outfielder Coco Crisp out of the A's lineup in New York on Wednesday, though he's expected to be back on the field for Thursday's finale.

Crisp initially suffered a neck strain nearly a month ago and, after missing several games thereafter, has been playing through it ever since.

Yoenis Cespedes -- who hit two home runs Wednesday -- has been playing through some discomfort, battling a bout of shoulder soreness he also experienced last year, according to Melvin. But it hasn't been serious enough to keep him out of the lineup.

"It's not an issue to where you're going to DH him and he's going to benefit from that, so we just monitor it," said Melvin, "and as long as he's comfortable swinging and it's not affecting what he's doing swing-wise too much, then it's just one of those things that you play with."

Worth noting
‬‬‬ • New York's CC Sabathia threw 25 pitches on flat ground at Yankee Stadium on Wednesday, rehabbing an injection in his injured right knee.

"As far as the pain, I felt good today, and felt good the last week or so," said Sabathia.

‬‬‬ • Oakland's Brandon Moss hit two home runs in Tuesday's series opener for the second time this season, and sixth in his career. Cespedes' two-homer game Wednesday was the fourth multihomer game of his career.

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