NEW YORK — The Baby Bombers deserve plenty of credit for powering the Yankees back into the postseason chase, but Masahiro Tanaka’s late-season surge might just be the most meaningful development taking place in the Bronx.
Tanaka stepped into the ace role again on Saturday as he recorded a season-high 10 strikeouts without a walk in a 5-1 victory over the Rays at Yankee Stadium, giving the Yankees their longest winning streak of the year at seven games.
The 27-year-old Tanaka saved his best work for the second half, helping a Yankees club that opened the afternoon just one game off the pace for the second American League Wild Card spot. Tanaka scattered five hits over 7 1/3 innings, improving to 5-0 in his past six starts as the Yankees moved 11 games over .500 at 76-65.
Chris Archer matched Tanaka through the first five frames, but Jacoby Ellsbury and Gary Sanchez broke up the duel with back-to-back home runs in the sixth inning. Ellsbury launched a two-run home run to right field, his eighth homer, and Sanchez homered for the second consecutive day with a solo shot into the left-field bullpen, his 13th dinger.
Archer was saddled with his 18th loss despite holding New York to three runs and four hits over seven innings. Sanchez and Didi Gregorius lifted eighth-inning sacrifice flies, with Sanchez swinging away as Enny Romero attempted to issue an intentional walk. Bobby Wilson hit an …