Masahiro Tanaka had turned in some rather stingy work for the Yankees, allowing two or fewer earned runs in nine of his 11 starts. And yet he didn’t have much to show for it at first pitch Monday night against the Angels at Yankee Stadium.
The 27-year-old righthander had only four decisions, winning three of them. The Yankees had scored three or fewer runs in six of the starts — two or fewer runs while he still was in those games — and he yielded two or fewer runs in all six. He was unbeaten in his first 10 starts.
So would Tanaka turn in more stingy work, and would the often offensively challenged Yankees provide some support?
Yes and no. The biggest hit came after he departed.
Despite not bringing his best stuff, Tanaka yielded two runs and six hits in seven innings. But the Yankees’ hitters produced only two runs while he was in there, on back-to-back homers by Brian McCann and Starlin Castro in the seventh inning.
After winning pitcher Andrew Miller replaced Tanaka and struck out three in the eighth, Carlos Beltran belted an opposite-field three-run shot in the bottom of the inning in the Yankees’ 5-2 win.
Tanaka ended up with his eighth no-decision. So his record still 3-1 is despite a 2.76 ERA and those 10 starts of two or fewer earned runs. But he didn’t sound frustrated.
“It’s part of baseball,” he said via a translator. “It’s not something that I can really control . . . So I try to control what I can. It’s just basically go out there and try to put up as much zeros as possible. However, I think it is the first time in my career [here] I’ve had eight no-decisions.”
The Yankees are 8-4 in his starts, so the most important thing is he usually gives them a chance to win.
“And I think that’s my job,’’ Tanaka said.
Mike Scioscia is a fan. “He’s got really good command,” the Angels’ manager said before the game. “He’s tough when he’s on.”
Tanaka’s splitter and slider were off, but he still was tough.
“I thought he battled his butt off,” Joe Girardi said.
The Angels got to Tanaka starting with his first pitch. Yunel Escobar grounded it into left for a single and scored on a two-out single by Albert Pujols.
Gregorio Petit opened the third with a long ground-rule double to center. After a sacrifice, Kole Calhoun hit a rocket of a sacrifice fly that Jacoby Ellsbury ran down in deep left-centerfield.
“I really didn’t have anything,” Tanaka said. “I really struggled with my stuff, but it kind of came down to [my heart]. I think I was really able to sort of grind through.”