Showing posts with label Masahiro Tanaka. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Masahiro Tanaka. Show all posts

Saturday, June 28, 2014


One Slip Sinks Tanaka

Jon Lester Tops Masahiro Tanaka in Impressive Pitcher’s Duel at Yankee Stadium

By Howard Goldin

BRONX, NEW YORK, JUNE 29- On Saturday night, a sold-out house of 48,433 at Yankee Stadium, the third largest crowd of the season, was attracted to another contest between the biggest rivals in baseball, the New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox.

The two courageous and talented starting pitchers, Jon Lester of Boston and Masahiro Tanaka of New York hooked up in an outstandingly performed and fast moving pitcher’s duel.

Lester, 30, was starting his 237th game in the majors. The number of starts would be even higher, but Lester missed large parts of his first two seasons with Boston, 2006 and 2007, after being diagnosed with lymphoma in the summer of 2006. Tanaka, 25, was making his 16th start of his first season in MLB.

Lester pitched no-hit ball for the first five frames. The first hit he yielded was a single up the middle by Brett Gardner, leading off the sixth. After Gardner was thrown out trying to stretch his single to a double, the next two batters, Derek Jeter and Jacoby Ellsbury, each singled, but were left on base when the inning ended.

The only run given up by Lester was scored without a hit. Brian Roberts was safe on an error to begin the Yankee third. The next batter, Yangervis Solarte, was hit by a pitch. Gardner pushed them each up one base with a sacrifice bunt. The unearned run was scored on an infield groundout by Jeter.

Lester’s superlative performance of pitching eight innings without allowing an earned run, while only yielding five hits, was last equaled by a Red Sox pitcher in the Bronx when it was accomplished by Lester on July 3, 2008 in the original Yankee Stadium’s final season.

When asked to describe Lester’s outing, Yankee skipper Joe Girardi remarked, “He does what he always does. He cuts it; he sinks it; he locates. He pitched extremely well tonight.”
The leading Rookie-of-the-Year candidate, Tanaka, pitched his third complete game of the season. He walked one batter and surrendered seven hits, but only two pitches were responsible for his loss.

Catcher David Ross took a 1-0 pitch into the stands for a solo home run with one out in the third.

The winning run came with two out in the ninth on the 112th pitch thrown by the Yankee starter. With the count 1-2 on Mike Napoli, who had two hits and homered off Tanaka in their previous encounter on April22, Tanka threw a fast ball over the plate that Napoli sent into the right field stands.

Through his translator, Tanaka explained what happened, “The sign was for a breaking ball, but I wanted to go hard outside. That’s why I shook him [catcher Brian McCann] off twice. He asked for a splitter and a slider. I wanted to set up for a breaking ball on the next pitch, but I missed my spot.”

After the game, Girardi was asked why he didn’t remove Tanaka in the ninth. He responded with the following statement, “He’d been excellent all night. His stuff was really outstanding. I liked how he’d been throwing the baseball.” 

Neither deserved to lose such a well-pitched game yet one did. Both deserved to win such a well-pitched game yet only one did. That’s baseball, a game of inches.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Terminator Tanaka

Terminator Tanaka
Pitcher Shuts Down Mets,
Gives Yankees Hope

By Rich Mancuso

BRONX, NEW YORK, MAY 15- Masahiro Tanaka is now the stopper for the New York Yankees. The Mets were first hand observers and will not say anything different after the right-hander shutthem out at Citi Field Wednesday evening. And there should be no doubt about the stopper role because that is what the Yankees needed to end a four-game losing streak.

He was also what the Yankees needed to stop a six-game losing streak against the Mets dating back to last season. And with CC Sabathia, Ivan Nova, and Michael Pineda, three quarters of the Yankees’ starting rotation on the disabled list this is what manager Joe Girardi was looking for.

“We needed a win,” Girardi said. “After losing a couple of tough games at home he got better as the night went on. He’s been special. The young kid throws good… he has a lot of weapons and knows how to handle the baseball.”

Though Girardi did admit, Tanaka will be managed differently because of the injuries. In other words, despite getting the first complete game shutout of his Major League career, Tanaka who threw 114 pitches, will be protected from going the route. Girardi knows he does not need his best to also go down with an injury.

But, Tanaka was purchased by the Yankees to pitch like every other starter. Go deep into games and get the win, providing there was enough run support. The Mets showed a resurgence of power and run production, in two games at Yankee Stadium this week, but they came home to Citi Field and again their bats went quiet.

And it was attributed to Tanaka who became the first Yankees rookie pitcher to begin the season at 6-0. At this rate, and there is every expectation he will continue to be dominant, Tanaka is a cinch to win the AL Rookie of the year or AL CY Young Award.

However, there is a long way to go before Tanaka is considered for those prestigious post season awards. The Yankees are more inclined for Tanaka to keep pitching well, and to be the one who can keep the ship afloat as their ailing pitching staff gets back to health.

Here is how dominating Tanaka was: He threw 28 splitters where the Mets hit into eight outs and managed only one base runner. Eric Young Jr. hit a double in the sixth inning, one of their four hits and that was the only other time they had a runner reach second.

He had the Mets swinging and missing. He had them confused at the plate, just as he has done in seven previous starts against American League opponents. So, by now, not even teams in the National League can figure a way to hit that splitter.

"I knew what was coming, but I couldn't hit it," the Mets’ Daniel Murphy said. "He's commanding all his pitches to all zones. The splitter is the equalizer. You don't see it that much, someone using it in any count like that.”

Tanaka said, through his Japanese translator, "I just go up there and basically try to win every single game.” At this rate, and the way the Yankees have been scoring runs, they would love to see Tanaka on the mound every game.

The spotlight of pitching in this inter-league Subway Series game, and opposing the debut of Mets rookie pitcher Rafael Montero, did not cause a distraction. He gets on the mound and gets the job done, as has been the situation since his debut on the mound at Yankee Stadium last month.

He became another storyline in what has become an interesting three games between the Yankees and Mets….

As for the Mets, who will debut rookie Jacob deGrom in the series finale Thursday night, manager Terry Collins praised Tanaka. deGrom is one of those young promising arms getting an early season look, like Montero early in the season, and needed with Dillon Gee on the 15-day disabled list with a strained right lar.

Collins also saw the difference again of long balls that went for outs at Citi Field. Six home runs hit by the Mets in two games at Yankee Stadium will make a manager see things differently.

He said, "You asked me about the home run barrage? We hit three of them tonight. They were just in the wrong park.”

The night belonged to Tanaka and the Yankees. And the Mets may have come to a decision and anointed Jennry Mejia as their closer when Kyle Farnsworth was outrighted to Triple-A Las Vegas. Though Farnsworth has a right to refuse the assignment and could be with another team.

To that, a frustrated and disappointed Farnsworth had his say in the matter. He said there was anger and disappointment in the decision to let him go. And for the Mets, who appeared to have Farnsworth in the closer role, it was another way to get the bullpen up to par. Farnsworth was not the answer, neither is Jose Valverde who could also be out the door.

But the Yankees have a different situation. They have a stopper in Masahiro Tanaka.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

#Tanaka Remains Unbeaten

#Tanaka Remains Unbeaten

By Howard Goldin

BRONX, NEW YORK, MAY 4- On Saturday afternoon, the Yankees ended a three-game losing streak with a 6-3 victory over the Tampa Rays. The outcome also terminated the three-game winning streak for the Rays.

Masahiro Tanaka, the starting pitcher for the Yanks, remained undefeated after his sixth start in the majors. His credit for the win raised his win/loss mark to 4-0 this season. During his stint on Saturday, the 25 year-old yielded eight hits and three runs. He did not issue a walk for the third of his six starting assignments. 

The five batters he fanned raised his total of strikeouts this season to 51, the fifth highest in the major leagues since 1900, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

The win credited to Tanaka extends his two continent (Japan and North America) win streak to 32 regular season decisions. The last contest he lost occurred on August 9, 2012, when he pitched for the Rakuten Golden Eagles. 

On Saturday afternoon, Tanaka was not blessed with his best stuff. Both he and Yankee skipper Joe Girardi discussed the problem. Girardi commented, “I didn’t think his command with his fastball was too good at first [and] that got him into trouble.”

The young hurler admitted he had problems, “All my pitches weren’t there today. They weren’t crisp.”

As has happened on several occasions this year, Tanaka was touched for runs early in the game. Desmond Phillips, the second batter he faced, homered to right to put Tampa on the board in the first.

Three base hits led to a second Tampa run in the second.

The third and final run for the Rays was scored on a lead-off home run by Will Myers in the fourth. Myers loves the new Yankee Stadium as he has hit successfully in all 12 games he has played in the Bronx ballpark. He thus raised the mark for consecutive games hitting safely at the start of a career in either Yankee Stadium.

After the home run, Tanaka only surrendered two singles in his final four innings on the mound. This was noted by those most involved in the accomplishment. 

Yankee catcher Brian McCann remarked, “After the third inning, he settled down. It’s hard to believe he’s 25; he has such poise on the mound.”

His manager added to the words of praise, “He’s good at making adjustments. [With Tanaka], you’re going to get a guy who competes, who gives you distance and who keeps you in the game.”

Tanaka responded to questions about his early game difficulties, “I really don’t know why the slow starts. I wish I could be better. I’m glad I was able to battle my way back through the game.”

Interesting batting stats-Mark Teixeira’s first pitch home run in the fourth was his fourth in the last five games and his fifth in his last eight. The three hits by James Loney, first sacker for the Rays, upped his average in 23 games against the Yanks since signing with Rays before last season to .410. Ichiro Suzuki has hit safely in 9 of his 11 starts. His two doubles on Saturday moved his batting average to a team high .375. Three hits by Jacoby Ellsbury gave him a batting average of .346.

Starting the final game of the three game series on Sunday afternoon will be CC Sabathia for the Yanks and Erik Bedard for the Rays. 

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Tanaka has arrived in the Bronx

Tanaka has arrived in the Bronx 
Pitching Phenom Lives Up to the Hype

By Rich Mancuso

BRONX, NEW YORK, APRIL 10- The slider, fastball, and change up came as advertised from Masahiro Tanaka and were on display for the first time in the Bronx Wednesday night. And for almost seven innings, Tanaka had the Baltimore Orioles knowing that the New York Yankees right-hander from Japan had arrived.

Nelson Cruz also knows that well, two of the 10-strikeout victims, courtesy of a nasty slider Tanaka throws that hit the dirt. The fastball also contributed to the swings, and looks at the plate that Cruz and the Orioles will see again.

It was Tanaka as advertised, and there will be more to come. The Yankees early season bullpen issues are more of an issue for manager Joe Girardi. 

Tanaka was asked about his first two starts and the early runs. He gave up a first inning home run in his first start, to Melky Cabrera up in Toronto. Wednesday night, the Orioles scored three runs in the second inning.

“Obviously that is something I need to adjust,” he said through his interpreter. “It’s really hard to make an assessment after two games.” And one veteran scout sitting up in the Yankee Stadium area press box said, “He will adjust. Wish we had him.”

A first inning fastball hit by Delmon Young, a double to the wall in left was the beginning of what will be an adjustment. It was clocked at 90, advertised as it came. But Young got a hold of it and Tanaka, will eventually adjust and learn how to get three easy outs in a Major League Baseball game first inning.

Adam Jones got caught swinging at a third strike, a 14-pitch first inning. Nelson Cruz got fooled and struck out in the second on a Tanaka fastball. Steve Lombordozzi followed with the second hit of the inning, lining a ball that got over the head of Yangervis Solarte at third.

But, Tanaka looked good against Cruz, one of the premiere hitters in baseball, with or without a steroid suspension on his resume. He got Cruz to strike out in the third inning on a slider that was in the dirt, but in that second inning, he continued to get a lesson.

Jonathan Schoop, on a 1-0 pitch, got hold of a slider that landed deep in the second deck out in left for an Orioles 3-0 lead. He would settle down, very identical to that first start up in Toronto. There were 58 pitches, 40 for strikes after three innings. He definitely can dominate, and on four days rest, another adjustment that he says will not be an issue.

“He made a mistake and kept a slider up,” commented Schoop. “I tried to make adjustments as he tried to elevate me, and then he made a mistake.”

However, Tanaka, as everyone knows will not make many mistakes. This is still a learning process of adjusting and learning the hitters here, even in his new home run yard known as Yankee Stadium. He allowed three earned runs and a walk.

“He battled out of tough jams, made pitches when he had to and got better as the night went along,” said Girardi, who added, Tanaka threw the ball okay. In the fifth inning with two on base and with two out, the score knotted at 3-3, on a 2-2 pitch he got Matt Wieters to go after a changeup in the dirt and get out of the inning, his eighth strikeout.

“He is as good as advertised,” claimed Orioles manager Buck Showalter. “

On his 101st pitch, Tanaka got Young swinging on another slider for his 10th strikeout and second of the sixth inning. He could have gone longer, but this is a process, now adjusting to the four day rest routine. In other words this is not the accustomed process of taking the mound every fifth day.  

He said, “I understand four days. Also it’s a long season and will go along with it.” 

The Orioles’ Adam Jones said, Tanaka is not facing the same hitters that were in Japan. “We groove, we hack.”

Jones struck out twice and singled in three at bats off Tanaka. He became the second Yankee pitcher to strike out at least eight batters in each of his first two Major League starts. The 10 strikeouts were the most by a Yankees rookie since Ivan Nova on August 4, of 2011 against the White Sox, and most for a rookie at home since 1998 in a game against Texas.

Yes, Tanaka has arrived. The Yankees may have their bullpen issues but a sensation from Japan will eventually go deeper into games. It is part of the adjustment and he comes as advertised.

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