HOUSTON - Though Masahiro Tanaka has boiled down his rough last two outings to "mechanical" problems, one opposing team talent evaluator said it's more a problem of approach.
"He's nickel-and-diming everything and just doesn't seem to want to throw the fastball," the evaluator said. "The split is still good but teams aren't swinging at it as much, and they're teeing off on the other stuff that just isn't as sharp as we've seen."
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Tanaka allowed a career-high six earned runs in the Yankees' 9-6 victory over the Astros on Saturday. He has allowed 13 runs (11 earned) and 17 hits (including six home runs) in 10 innings in his last two outings.
In his first three starts after coming off the disabled list June 3, he went 2-1 with a 1.72 ERA. But the two poor performances have almost completely shoved the first three to the back burner.
After Saturday's game, pitching coach Larry Rothschild hinted at the same issues the scout mentioned, saying Tanaka needs to "attack the strike zone instead of trying to dot around" it.
"He's capable of doing it on the corners but he's been missing a lot," Rothschild said. "There's some adjustments that we need to make."
Ellsbury off to Tampa
Jacoby Ellsbury, on the DL since May 20 with a sprained knee, departed for Tampa after Sunday's game. "I'm excited to get back playing in [rehab] games sometime this week," he said. "And I can't wait to get back with the big-league club."
Ellsbury ran full-out sprints each of the last two days, the final hurdle the Yankees needed him to clear before greenlighting the rehab assignment.
Before Sunday's game, the Yankees called up righthander Esmil Rogers from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and optioned infielder Gregorio Petit. To make room on the 40-man roster, the Yankees placed outfielder Slade Heathcott (right quad strain) on the 60-day DL.
Correa stays hot
The Yankees proved no better at stopping rookie shortstop Carlos Correa than anyone else. The 20-year-old doubled twice to become the first shortstop since 1914 to record nine doubles in his first 20 career games. Correa went 6-for-16 with a homer and three RBIs in the series and has a .314/.337/.593 slash line overall.
"When you watch him play the game," Joe Girardi said, "there doesn't seem to be anything he can't do."