SEATTLE - Masahiro Tanaka and Joe Girardi didn't quite see eye-to-eye late Wednesday night.
After Tanaka improved to 10-1 in the Yankees' 4-2 victory over the Mariners, he didn't seem as pleased with his outing as everyone else was.
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"A lot of my pitches were going right in the middle of the strike zone, so that would be one thing I wasn't too happy about,'' said Tanaka, who pitched his second complete game and whose ERA sat at an impressive 2.02 afterward.
Sure, Tanaka had his hopes of a shutout busted in the ninth inning when Robinson Cano hit a two-run homer, but it was an otherwise superb performance, one that had the clubhouse buzzing.
"I'd be hard-pressed to find anything,'' he said of what Tanaka could have done better.
Earlier, he said: "I know that he's very hard on himself. And I think what it does is it pushes him, and I think that's how he gets the most out of what he has.''
Which, to this point, has been dominant stuff. So dominant, in fact, that Tanaka is in the early conversation for a rare triple crown: AL Rookie of the Year, AL Cy Young and AL MVP.
"Unhittable'' was the way an opposing scout described Tanaka's splitter Wednesday night. The pitch helped Tanaka strike out 11, the fourth time in 13 starts that he has struck out at least 10.
After Cano's homer, he struck out Kyle Seager and Logan Morrison looking -- on 94- and 95-mph four-seam fastballs -- to end it. "Just awesome command of everything,'' the scout said.
The numbers, no matter which ones you look at, jump off the page from his first major-league season. There's the 103 strikeouts compared to 14 walks in 932/3 innings; 6-1 with a 2.10 ERA in seven starts on the road; going 13-for-13 in producing a quality start. Just to name a few.
"You look forward to him on the mound,'' Derek Jeter said. "He works quick, he throws strikes. He's pretty much dominated since he's been here.''
There's another number Girardi discussed, one that has been critical to his team staying afloat in the AL with a 33-31 record entering Thursday night.
"You look at our record, he's 10-1,'' Girardi said. "He's got a third of our wins. It's impressive what he's done.''
Just don't ask Tanaka to say that. He has been his own toughest critic all season. Speaking through his translator Wednesday night, he wasn't much interested in giving an evaluation of his season, insinuating that is best left to others.
"I personally really can't make an assessment on it,'' Tanaka said. "All I'm trying to do is go out there and pitch the best I can every night that I'm allowed to go out there.''
Tanaka's competitiveness has stood out. He has a bulldog mentality that is not always evident in the clubhouse but certainly is on the mound.
Take, for instance, his performance since his first, and only, loss of the season, May 20 to the Cubs in Chicago. In four starts since that defeat, Tanaka is 4-0 with a 1.21 ERA. In that stretch, he has struck out 30 and walked six in 292/3 innings and held the opposition to a .190 average and .241 on-base percentage.
"He's got great composure and he's got a lot of confidence in himself,'' Jeter said. "You see when he's on the mound and he misses some pitches sometimes and he's real hard on himself. He expects to be perfect out there. Nobody's perfect, but he expects perfection and he has a lot of ways he can beat you.''