With Tuesday night's 13-3 win over the Red Sox, the Yankees improved to 11-4 in games Masahiro Tanaka has started. After the game, a reporter asked Tanaka if that's a statistic that makes him proud.

The 26-year-old righthander answered diplomatically and without hesitation, as if he were reading from a proofread script. "Yeah, absolutely," he said through a translator. "My goal is to try and bring a win to the team. So yes, I'm really happy about that."

But then, as a different reporter had already begun to ask him another question, Tanaka, unprovoked, felt compelled to add more.

"But I think that I haven't been that good recently," he said, "so I think I put a lot of weight on the relief guys and I think I'm being helped a lot from our offense."

It's true -- unlike last season, when he posted a sensational 13-5 record, 2.77 ERA and 1.06 WHIP, Tanaka has needed more help carving out wins in 2015. In his last eight starts, he has a 5.03 ERA. That includes Tuesday night's outing against Boston, in which he threw six innings of three-run ball, allowing five hits and a walk with three strikeouts.

His nemesis this season has been the long ball. In 136 1/3 innings last year, he allowed 15 home runs. Pablo Sandoval's blast on a 1-and-2 sinker gave Tanaka 16 homers allowed in 93 2/3 innings this season.

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It's the one pitch from Tuesday night that he'd like to have back.

"That pitch to Sandoval, I think I could have gone with something else," Tanaka said. "Maybe a fastball out of the zone or possibly a breaking ball or splitter. I made that mistake and I paid for it."

Based on what he saw Tuesday, manager Joe Girardi believes it requires a relatively simple fix: locating pitches better.

"Thought he threw a pretty good tonight," Girardi said. "He just left a couple of pitches up."

Still, Tanaka (8-4, 3.84 ERA) has actually lessened his opponents batting average from .240 last year to .228 this season entering Tuesday.

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As he puts more distance between himself and an April forearm and wrist injury that shelved him for 5 1/2 weeks, Tanaka inches closer to the 2014 version who took major-league baseball by storm.

"For me," Tanaka said, "I don't think I'm that far away from there."