Masahiro Tanaka is starting to show just why his free agency inspired so much interest in the off-season.
Appearing in a pre-season game against the Atlanta Braves at George M. Steinbrenner Field, Tanaka allowed just one run of 4.5 1/3 innings. The lone run was conceded in the fourth, when Tommy La Stella doubled off the left-field fence to drive in Dan Uggla.
Tanaka struck out a total of six everyday hitters from the Braves, helping the New York Yankees to a 7-4 win on Sunday afternoon.
"That split-finger he's got, it's a good pitch. It's a swing-and-miss pitch," Freddie Freeman, a Braves first baseman, said of Tanaka to reporters.
"He spots up his fastball. I was watching it on TV when I came out of the game. He's able to go in and out, and that split-finger's a swing-and-miss pitch. He can throw it for a strike and also get you to chase on it. He looked real good today."
Julio Teheran was equally impressive for the Braves, achieving similar stats to the Yankees stalwart. The likely Opening Day starter for the Braves allowed just one run on five hits and a walk across four innings - Tanaka allowed one run on three hits and two walks.
The Braves took the lead in the fifth B.J. Upton's line-drive RBI single but the Yankees quickly regained their advantage in the bottom of the inning.
The Yankees travel south on Monday to face the Pirates at McKechnie Field in Bradenton, Fla., at 1:05 p.m. ET.
XMasahiro TanakaMasahiro Tanaka