The rain was falling, the tarp was rolling and Masahiro Tanaka wasn’t returning.
Not after 6 1/3 innings, 95 pitches and a 1-hour, 12-minute delay Tuesday night at Yankee Stadium.
The Yankees were trailing the Mariners by just a run. After the rain stopped, the Yankees fell behind by three runs, then rallied for one in the eighth and three in the ninth for a walk-off 5-4 win.
Tanaka was happy about the outcome, but not about the state of his splitter. It wasn’t the first time he had mentioned a problem with that prime weapon after a start this season.
His line was fine in the no-decision — two runs, five hits, two walks, four strikeouts. Sixty-one of his pitches went for strikes. But he gave up a solo homer to Edwin Encarnacion in the sixth that put Seattle up 2-1 — on a splitter.
“No, it wasn’t as sharp as I wanted it to be,” Tanaka said.
He knows he has to find that pitch.
“Obviously, you do want that split, and I think it’s a priority for me to get that split back,” Tanaka said. “But some days you have it and some days you don’t, and obviously today, I didn’t have it. But you’ve got to find a way to get through and eat up innings without having that pitch. I think I was able to do a pretty good job of it today.”
“Not necessarily the location of the pitch,” Tanaka said. “It’s the feel of the pitch, the movement of it and everything. So I feel that was not there, and that needs to be adjusted.”
Tanaka remained undefeated against Seattle, at 7-0 in nine starts. He’s 2-3 with a 3.77 ERA through eight starts overall this season. His recent work hadn’t been all that great. Three of his previous four starts were nowhere near quality. All three were losses.
He was asked when was the last time he felt happy with his splitter.
“I don’t think I can give you a good answer on that,” Tanaka said. “I’m just looking forward. My splitter is where it’s at right now. I need to make the adjustments to get it better.”
Tanaka looked frustrated a couple of times over lapses in the outfield that let a batter reach, one on a lack of communication between Brett Gardner and Clint Frazier and another on a ball that hit Frazier’s glove and fell for an error.
“I think I was sort of able to control myself well enough to get back in the game,” Tanaka said.
All in all, Aaron Boone sounded pleased with Tanaka.
“It’s not necessarily easy or perfect for Masa right now,” Boone said. “But he pitches us into the seventh inning, two runs against an offense that’s pretty good.”
At least Tanaka liked the ending.
“That’s what makes baseball fun,” he said. “So you can never give up until the end and we didn’t do that, and we got the win today. So it’s great.”