LAKELAND, Fla. — Spring training or not, Masahiro Tanaka’s numbers are fairly ridiculous.
The righthander followed a perfect four-inning outing last Saturday against the Tigers with a 4 1⁄3-inning start Friday against Detroit in which he did not allow a hit and struck out six.
His performance, coupled with those of lefthanders Chasen Shreve and Jordan Montgomery, allowed the Yankees to no-hit the Tigers in a 3-0 victory.
“I felt I wasn’t at my best,” Tanaka said through his translator. “But considering that, I was still able to put up some zeros, so that part I’m satisfied with.”
Tanaka did walk two batters with two outs in the first inning, but that was a minor blip on his afternoon, which gave him these numbers through four starts: 13 1⁄3 innings pitched, three hits, two walks and 19 strikeouts.
“I feel like I’ve been pitching well this spring, and on top of that, the results have been there,” Tanaka said. “I think everything is going on the right track for me.”
Although he excelled Friday, he did it, he said, without his slider and cutter, pitches he described as “all over the place.”
But the pitch Tanaka is best known for, a splitter that can be devastating, was good, as it’s been throughout spring training.
“I would say the splitter is the key to his success, and it’s the same splitter that I’ve been seeing from him,” Gary Sanchez said through his translator. “It’s good. The same sharpness.”
Said Joe Girardi: “I thought his split was pretty good today and a big pitch for him.”
Tanaka, who was coming off surgery to remove a bone spur a year ago, was brought along slowly in spring training. Each outing brought more questions than answers, and he posted a 7.36 ERA in four starts. This time around, Girardi could not be more pleased.
“His stuff has just been really, really good,” he said. “We thought he was further ahead this spring and it’s definitely showing.”
Notes & quotes: Girardi didn’t rule out the possibility of Montgomery, a 6-6, 225-pound lefthander taken in the fourth round of the 2014 draft out of the University of South Carolina, making the club out of camp. “We’re really curious about him,” he said, adding that the 24-year-old Montgomery, who struck out two in four perfect innings, will get a start during the next week. But don’t take that to mean he’s a factor in the competition for the fourth and fifth starter jobs, a battle in which Luis Severino and Bryan Mitchell have begun to separate themselves . . . Infielder Jorge Mateo was reassigned to minor-league camp Friday and optioned to Class A Tampa. Mateo, 21, who had a .254/.306/.379 slash line for Tampa last year, remains a top prospect. He impressed the club with his maturity during spring training — he drew a highly publicized suspension last season — but the feeling seems to be that he’ll need to earn a promotion.