If Masahiro Tanaka was upset about getting passed over by the Yankees for a Game 2 start in the ALDS, he hid it well on Tuesday.
"I wasn’t overly surprised when they told me I was going in Game 3," Tanaka said before 21-year-old Deivi Garcia faced the Rays on Tuesday at Petco Park in San Diego with the Yankees holding a 1-0 lead in the best-of-five series.
Tanaka may have been the only one who wasn’t surprised by manager Aaron Boone’s decision to throw a rookie with six big-league starts over a veteran with a proven postseason pedigree. Why was that?
"Just because I didn’t really care where I was pitching," Tanaka said through a translator. "I can’t really go into the details of why we’re doing this, but I have prepared myself to go pitch in Game 3."
Tanaka, like the rest of the Yankees, has been impressed with Garcia.
"He is 21, but when you look at his mound presence, you really can’t believe it’s a 21-year-old," he said. "Looking back at the regular season, he was able to go out there and execute and manage to get outs at this level. I have full confidence in him."
Tanaka has a 5-3 record and 2.70 ERA in nine postseason starts. He saw that ERA take a hit in his last outing, in Game 2 of the wild-card series in Cleveland.
Tanaka allowed six runs in four innings, though his performance can be excused by rotten luck and rottener weather.
First, MLB decided to delay the game because rain was forecast. After a dry 50-minute delay, Tanaka had to pitch during a deluge in the bottom of the first. And then the game was delayed again for a half an hour.
San Diego, by all accounts, is not Cleveland. The forecast for Wednesday in San Diego calls for a high of 79 and a low of 64 — and no rain. The game is scheduled to start at 4:10 local time.
"Obviously, better," Tanaka said. "But you really don’t know until you get to tomorrow. But I think this is better."
Tanaka is not familiar with Petco Park since he has never pitched there.
"I actually don’t look at it as [that] big of a challenge," Tanaka said. "I’ve been to new stadiums. When I first came here, everywhere I went to basically it’s a new stadium. You kind of adjust as you go. That said, I haven’t been here that often, but I’m not really worried about that."
Tanaka is very familiar with the Rays. In his seven years with the Yankees, Tanaka has pitched against Tampa Bay 21 times, going 11-5 with a 3.31 ERA. This season, he went 1-1, 4.20 in three starts against the AL East champions.