TAMPA, Fla. — Make that two straight solid outings for Masahiro Tanaka.
The righthander threw three scoreless innings Sunday in a 3-2 victory over the Pirates after striking out two in two scoreless innings Tuesday against the Tigers.
He allowed three hits Sunday after not allowing any Tuesday, but Tanaka struck out four, all on splitters.
“More than anything, I wanted to work on the command of the pitches,” he said through his translator. “Last time I think I was a little bit off on that part, so I just wanted to go out there and command the ball better. I felt a little better than last time.”
After Tuesday’s start, Tanaka said his splitter was “awfully bad” in the bullpen but worked well in the game. Same for Sunday.
“Not good in the bullpen,” he said, “but I got into the game and it was better, so that’s OK.”
Sanchez still firing
Catcher Gary Sanchez threw out two more runners, upping his total to five in his last four games.
“He changes the game in a lot of different ways, and it’s not always with his bat,” manager Joe Girardi said. “There’s nothing he can’t do, when you think about it.”
Sanchez went 1-for-2, improving to 6-for-17 (.353). Austin Romine, who started the game at catcher, also threw out a runner.
Torres at second
Top position prospect Gleyber Torres, 20, a shortstop the vast majority of his career, started at second base.
“I feel pretty comfortable,” said Torres, who played some second in the Arizona Fall League, where he earned MVP honors.
Said Girardi: “He looked natural. Didn’t look like it fazed him one bit.”
Torres tripled to right in the fifth inning and is 6-for-11 (.545).
The Yankees improved to 9-2. Though spring training records generally portend nothing for the regular season, Girardi said that could be an exception for a young team.
“I think these games are really important,” he said. “For young players to get comfortable, have good at-bats, and if you’re winning games, that means they’re doing their jobs, too.”
Poor communication by two of the club’s top outfield prospects led to a Pirates run in the ninth. With one out, Jerrick Suiter lifted a fly into the area of centerfielder Dustin Fowler. Rightfielder Clint Frazier also sprinted after it and made an ill-advised dive at the last moment that seemed to disrupt Fowler. The ball glanced off his glove.
“Fowler didn’t hear Frazier yelling, Frazier didn’t hear Fowler yelling,” Girardi said. “So that’s something. We’ve got to yell louder.”