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Masahiro Tanaka to start ALCS Game 1 for Yankees

On Thursday, Oct. 12, 2017, the Yankees announced that Masahiro Tanaka will start Friday's opening game of the American League Championship Series against Astros lefthander Dallas Keuchel in a rematch of the 2015 AL wild-card game, which the Astros won, 3-0. First pitch is scheduled for 8:08 p.m. Eastern. (Credit: MLB)

HOUSTON — In a nod to the age in which we live, the Yankees announced their starting rotation for the American League Championship Series in a succession of Twitter posts Thursday evening.

“And our ALCS Game 1 starter will be . . .

@T_Masahiro18!”

“And our ALCS Game 2 starter will be . . .

@LuisSeverino94”

“And our ALCS Game 3 starter will be . . .

@CC_Sabathia”

“And our ALCS Game 4 starter will be…

@SonnyGray2”

Gray is the most rested of the starters, but he did not pitch well in Game 1 of the Division Series against the Indians. Joe Girardi decided to go with the hot hands (and arms) for the first three games against the Astros.

Game 1 starter Masahiro Tanaka threw seven innings in a 1-0 win over Cleveland in Game 3 of the ALDS.

Game 2 starter Severino allowed three runs in seven innings in a 7-3 win in Game 4.

Game 3 starter Sabathia pitched well in both of his ALDS starts and left both with a lead.

“We just talked about who is throwing well, how the stuff kind of sets up, and we decided to go that way,” Girardi said. “Obviously, you can look at splits for this club. Doesn’t really matter. They hit righthanders basically the same as they hit lefthanders even though they have a number of righthanded hitters in their lineup. So we decided that we would go this way just on what’s been going on the last month and the playoffs so far and go from there.”

Gray allowed three runs in 3 1⁄3 innings in ALDS Game 1 on Oct. 5. Game 4 will not be played until Tuesday. So in order to help Gray keep the rust away, Girardi had the righthander throw a simulated game at Minute Maid Park on Thursday night.

As for Tanaka, he will start against lefthander Dallas Keuchel on Friday night. That was the matchup in the 2015 AL wild-card game at Yankee Stadium, which the Astros won, 3-0.

More recent history had Tanaka striking out 15 against the Blue Jays in his last regular-season start and pitching a gem against the Indians. So the nod went to the Yankees’ Opening Day starter, who suffered through an inconsistent campaign (13-12, 4.74 ERA).

“I think just being able to grind through that up-and-down season that I had and just being able to just fight through that up-and-down season, I think because of having that, I feel like I was able to pitch the way I pitched (against Cleveland),” Tanaka said through his interpreter.

Said Girardi: “His stuff was great the other day. He’s had some really big starts. His last two starts have been outstanding. And there’s a lot of times that he really gets on a roll and he puts a bunch of them together, and we’re going to need a good one from him.”

Tanaka gave up eight runs in 1 2⁄3 innings to the Astros on May 12. Not surprisingly, he didn’t want to talk about that.

“Just going into the big game, you don’t want to sort of have that negative feeling,” he said. “So to be honest, it’s not something I really want to get into. But what I can say is that I feel like I’m a different pitcher from that particular game earlier in the season.”

Masahiro Tanaka’s career numbers against the Astros, including his wild-card loss in 2015:

STARTS 5

W-L 0-3

ERA 8.87

INNINGS 22 1⁄3

HITS 29

EARNED RUNS 22

HOME RUNS 11

WALKS 9

STRIKEOUTS 19

WHIP 1.702

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