SEATTLE - For one afternoon, Masahiro Tanaka answered all of the questions.
Velocity? Check. Devastating split? Check. About five out pitches to choose from? Check.
The righthander, on whom the Yankees' AL East hopes very well may rest, could not have made a more impressive return to the rotation in a 3-1 victory over the Mariners Wednesday afternoon in front of 32,701 at Safeco Field.
On a pitch count of 80-85, Tanaka, on the disabled list since April 29 with a right forearm strain and right wrist tendinitis, still managed to give the Yankees (29-25) seven innings.
Tanaka, with a fastball that peaked at 95 mph, allowed one run, three hits and no walks. He struck out a season-high nine and retired the final 13 batters he faced, cruising after Garrett Jones' two-run homer in the fourth gave him the lead for good.
Chris Capuano allowed a hit in the eighth and, taking no chances with one out, Joe Girardi called on closer Andrew Miller. The lefthander was fortunate to get through that inning without allowing a run, then pitched a scoreless ninth for his 17th save.
Miller hit a batter and walked one to load the bases in the eighth with one out but, after falling behind Logan Morrison 3-and-0, struck out the leadoff batter, then retired Austin Jackson, coming off a four-hit game Tuesday, on a grounder to end the inning.
The only downer on the sun-splashed afternoon came in the bottom of the second when catcher Brian McCann was replaced by John Ryan Murphy because of what the club called "right foot soreness." McCann will undergo an MRI Thursday in New York.
Mark Teixeira gave Tanaka an early lead, hitting his team-high 16th homer to lead off the second.
Tanaka was perfect through two innings, striking out three, but his defense also saved him twice.
In the first, third baseman Chase Headley made a diving stop to his left of a Jackson ground smash, throwing to Teixeira for the out.
In the second, Didi Gregorius, playing just to the right of second base in the overshift, made a diving stab of Seth Smith's shot up the middle and threw the rightfielder out.
The Mariners tied it in the third when Brad Miller led off with a triple and came in on Dustin Ackley's double.
The Yankees' defense kept it there.
After Tanaka struck out Mike Zunino for the first out of the inning, Logan Morrison grounded a single to left. Rookie Ramon Flores, who made his MLB debut Saturday in Oakland and had an outfield assist, charged the ball and delivered a strike to Murphy, who tagged out Ackley.
Tanaka took it from there, retiring 13 straight.
Alex Rodriguez walked to lead off the fourth and with two outs came in on Jones' third homer of the season and second in as many games.