Masahiro Tanaka is now the second Yankees pitcher and the first since 1915 to strike out at least eight in his first two major-league starts. This time, he fanned 10. So after two starts, he owns 18 Ks and one walk in 14 innings.
But he worked in and out of trouble three times in this 5-4 loss to the Orioles and served up a three-run homer to Jonathan Schoop on the way to a no-decision, leaving him displeased.
“I thought I was able to battle,” Tanaka said through an interpreter. “But I put runners on and gave up a home run to the ninth batter. That I can’t do.”
Still, you can see he has the kind of stuff to get out of jams. His splitter bailed him out in the third and the fifth.
“He made some pitches when he had to,” Joe Girardi said. “I thought he threw the ball good.”
Tanaka, though, has allowed three runs by the end of the second inning in both of his starts before firing off five scoreless innings each time. Not time to call it a trend yet.
“Obviously that’s something I need to adjust, but it’s hard to make an assessment after two games,” he said.
Tanaka also said there was no problem making the transition to four days’ rest after usually pitching once a week in Japan. He came out after 101 pitches, but he has thrown a lot more back home. He said he probably could have gone longer.
“But I understand it’s only four days in between and it’s a long season,” Tanaka said. “So I’m going by what the team tells me to do.”
The Yankees starters’ streak of five straight games without issuing a walk came to end when Tanaka gave out his one free pass in the third. It was the team’s longest streak since 2002.
Shawn Kelley lamented not being able to put batters away in the ninth, giving up three two-strike hits.
“I thought they did a pretty good job getting the barrel to some of those pitches,” Kelley said.
Now the Red Sox come in for four. I’ll have Jacoby Ellsbury’s thoughts on facing his old team in the morning post.
Photo by The Associated Press.