BOSTON - It was by far the shortest, and least successful, outing of Masahiro Tanaka's MLB career.
The righthander lasted just 12/3 innings Saturday afternoon against the Red Sox in a 10-4 loss at Fenway Park but, setting aside the ugly results, overall the afternoon wasn't a complete loss.
In fact, it was overwhelmingly positive.
All indications suggest the righthander, who missed most of the season's second half rehabbing a partially torn ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow, will avoid Tommy John surgery this offseason.
"I think we feel pretty good where he's at going into spring training but, like I've said, there's healthy guys that have problems," Joe Girardi said. "Sometimes it rears its ugly head. But the fact that he got through these two starts and didn't have any issues, I feel pretty good. The velocity was there, I thought his split was pretty good, just his command was off a little bit."
Tanaka allowed seven runs, five earned, and seven hits.
According to Kyodo News, it matched the shortest outing of the 25-year-old's professional career. On March 29, 2007, Tanaka's first season with the Rakuten Golden Eagles, he allowed six runs and six hits in 12/3 innings against the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks.
Still Tanaka, though not thrilled with the performance, had no complaints with his elbow.
"Obviously, I wasn't as sharp as I wanted to be today but the arm and body is fine," Tanaka said through his translator. "I feel I should be OK."
Tanaka, who made two starts after coming off the disabled list and finished his first season in the big leagues 13-5 with a 2.77 ERA, agreed that he will have "peace of mind" when he heads back to his native Japan shortly after the season ends. Peace of mind that he will be ready to go for a full spring training regimen starting in February, with his elbow troubles behind him.
In reviewing his first season with the Yankees, one in which he was as dominant as any pitcher in the AL before getting hurt, Tanaka used the word "disappointed."
"My goal coming in this season was to stay healthy and keep a spot in the rotation," he said. "Obviously, I wasn't able to do that, probably was able to only do half the job. So that said, I think I'm a little bit disappointed with how the season went."
And his first-half numbers -- 12-4 with a 2.51 ERA -- can be improved on, Tanaka said. As good as they were, his goal for next year isn't to only match them.
"I'm sure there's going to be a lot of talk, a lot of expectations but for me, I just try to go on the mound and try to do the best I can, try to put up a 'W,' '' Tanaka said. "As far as comparing the first half of the season with next season, I feel like [next season] I want to do better than I did the first half of [this] season."