(SportsNetwork.com) - Masahiro Tanaka makes his highly-anticipated return to the mound on Wednesday afternoon as the New York Yankees close out a three- game set with the Seattle Mariners.
Tanaka's fifth start of the campaign will be his first since April 23 in Detroit, an outing that saw him allow just one run over 6 1/3 innings of a no- decision. He has been sidelined since due to a right forearm strain and right wrist tendinitis after having missed most of the second half last season due to a slight tear in his right ulnar collateral ligament, which he rehabbed instead of undergoing surgery.
The 26-year-old righty is 2-1 with a 3.22 earned run average on the year and the Yankees will bump Chris Capuano to clear a spot for Tanaka in the rotation.
Tanaka faced the Mariners once during his 20-start, 13-win Major League rookie season last year, striking out 11 in a complete-game victory that saw him scatter two runs and six hits.
Seattle's Taijuan Walker tries to win back-to-back starts for the first time this season and improve upon his 2-5 mark and 6.18 ERA.
Walker had allowed four runs and four walks in each of his previous two outings prior to an excellent effort in Friday's win over Cleveland. The right-hander didn't walk a batter and struck out eight over eight scoreless innings of two-hit ball, earning his team a 2-1 win.
"The defense was unbelievable," Walker said. "I felt really good."
It was Walker's longest outing of the season as he struggles to find consistency, having allowed four or more runs five times on the year. He is set to face the Yankees for the first time.
The Yankees take aim at a sweep of this series after picking up a 5-3 victory in 11 innings on Tuesday night. Garrett Jones smacked a go-ahead, three-run homer in the top of the final frame.
Robinson Cano hit an RBI single in the home 11th against his former team to get Seattle within two runs, but Andrew Miller struck out Nelson Cruz to end the game and notch his 16th save of the season.
Brett Gardner finished with two hits and a pair of runs scored for the Yankees, who have won three of four and six of their past nine games. They lead the Tampa Bay Rays by one game for first place in the AL East.
Mike Montgomery fired six innings of one-run ball in his MLB debut, scattering four hits and walking two for the Mariners, who have dropped four straight and five of their last six games.
"The debut of our starter was tremendous," Seattle manager Lloyd McClendon said. "I was very proud of the way he went about his business."
The Yankees swept a three-game set in Seattle last season and have won seven straight as well as nine of their last 10 on the road in this series.