Yankees' Masahiro Tanaka dominates Mets with four-hit shutout
As Brett Gardner and Derek Jeter prepared to leave the clubhouse to stretch late Wednesday afternoon, the players joked about the previous night's 3- hour, 58-minute marathon and made predictions for last night's contest at Citi Field.
Jeter was skeptical the game could come in under 3:30 but Gardner thought different, noting Masahiro Tanaka's presence on the mound.
"Two-hit complete game, 103 pitches," Gardner said as he walked out.
The leftfielder wasn't far off.
Tanaka added to an already impressive start to his major-league career, dominating the Mets in a 4-0 victory that snapped a four-game losing streak.
"I wasn't being silly, I just felt like that was what he was going to do," Gardner said afterward. "We obviously have a lot of faith in him. It's a lot of fun to watch him pitch, and I feel like the longer he's over here, the more he gets comfortable, he can be even better."
Tanaka, in improving to 6-0 with a 2.17 ERA, allowed four hits, throwing 114 pitches. He struck out eight and walked none, furthering his already impressive numbers in both categories this season -- 66 strikeouts and seven walks.
"It was his first complete game but he's had the stuff to be able to do this," catcher Brian McCann said. "He was really, really good tonight."
Tanaka, who a week ago called the prospect of batting "scary," even collected his first hit, grounding a single back up the middle off Jose Valverde in the ninth.
"Apparently, he can do everything," said second baseman Brian Roberts, who became the first Yankee since Curtis Granderson in 2010 to hit two triples in a game.
Tanaka, 25, is unbeaten in his last 42 professional starts, not taking a loss since Aug. 19, 2012 when he pitched for the Rakuten Golden Eagles in Japan.
"He's been great all season," Jacoby Ellsbury said. "Another impressive performance."
The Yankees, losers of nine of 13 coming in, have been decimated by injuries in the last month, particularly in their rotation, which has lost 60 percent of those who started the season.
The bullpen, called on early and often, has been beat up and the Yankees were in some need of an effective and lengthy outing. "He's got to give us some distance," Joe Girardi said.
Tanaka more than came through, and got stronger as the game went on, striking out the side in the seventh -- getting David Wright on a slider, Granderson on a curveball and Chris Young on a fastball -- and retiring 10 of the last 11.
"What he does is impressive," pitching coach Larry Rothschild said. "It's impressive because he commands three and four pitches. If you ever talk about a smart pitcher, you can bet that they're throwing three and four pitches for strikes, and that's what he does . . . He wasn't laboring to throw the ball and was still pretty easy with his delivery. He was still strong at the end and you could see he wanted to go to the wire."