Tanaka Terminates Toronto
Raises Mark to 11-1 as Yanks Top Blue Jays
(Photos by Gary Quintal)
By Howard Goldin
BRONX, NEW YORK, JUNE 18- Masahiro Tanaka continued his sensational pitching as he earned his 11th win of the year.
The 3-2 win of the Yanks over the Toronto Blue Jays was the 14th consecutive victory of the Yanks over their Canadian rivals in games played in the Bronx. The victory cut the deficit for the second place Yankees to 3.5 games behind the American League East leading Blue Jays.
Yankees skipper Joe Girardi commented, “You want to close as much ground as you can.”
As has happened in each of Tanaka’s 14 games this season, the major story of the game is his performance on the mound. The 25 year-old has thrown a “quality start” in each of his 14 appearances in the majors. He is only the second pitcher to pitch at least six innings and give up three runs or less in each of his first 14 major league starts in more than a century. Steve Rogers of the Montreal Expos achieved that feat in 1973.
Former Met shortstop Jose Reyes hit the first pitch of the game into the stands in right for a home run. After the game Tanaka, recalled, “I think it was the first time in my career that I gave up a first pitch home run. It threw me off my rhythm.” After two batters were retired, two Blue Jays batters hit singles in the inning.
Girardi described the first pitch in the following manner, “He [Tanaka] just threw a pitch right down the middle and Reyes knows this park very well.”
Although Tanaka expressed disappointment with his performance after the game, he only yielded two additional hits in the five other innings he pitched. He walked two, yielded five hits and fanned 10, double figures for the fifth time this year. His 113 strikeouts in his first 14 starts in the big leagues is third in history. His season ERA dropped after the contest to a minuscule 1.99.
Most importantly for the Yankees, the Japanese native did not yield a run after his first pitch. He was removed after six because of his pitch count of 104.
Girardi was profuse in his praise of Tanaka throughout the season, “His stuff is pretty good and he knows how to use it and make adjustments. It’s hard not to say that his start is as good as anyone I know. I don’t think it’s fair to expect that from anyone. It’s just remarkable.”
Another experienced eye, that of the Yankees veteran captain, Derek Jeter, saw very similar to what the Yankee manager did in watching Tanaka, “He’s pretty much done that every time out. His ability to make adjustments from hitter to hitter is probably the most impressive thing. He makes adjustments throughout the game.”
The self-critical rookie disagreed with the assessments of Jeter and Girardi, “I don’t feel I was making adjustments tonight. I was just trying to keep the ball down.”
However he performed as he has done this season, it should be noted that Tanaka leads the American League in wins, winning percentage and ERA.
The Yankee relievers, Dellin Betances in two innings and David Robertson in the ninth, did not give up a run.
Rookie Chase Whitley and veteran Mark Buehrle will be the starting pitchers in the second game of the three game set on Wednesday night.