The Masahiro Tanaka train thundered through the Oakland Athletics line-up to halt a four-game slide for the Yankees in their 2-1 victory last night.
Tanaka still denies he is the brightest-shining star in the star-studded team but his stats say differently. After conceding just one run off five hits in six innings the Japanese pitcher boosted his season figures to 1.78 ERA with 74 strikeouts for a 9-1 record.
Even if you don’t know his stats, Tanaka’s teammates are more than happy to praise their pitcher.
Tanaka has got the Yankees out of a few holes this season thanks to his superior pitching which the rest of the MLB are yet to find a way how to counter.
Although it wasn't Tanaka's strongest day on the mound he found a way to keep the biggest hitters in MLB tied down.
The right-hander, who was named AL pitcher of the month in May, conceded his only run after just two batters. John Jaso smashed his first offering into the right-field seats.
This homer appeared to stir the pitcher to work even harder and he retired the next ten batters before conceding another hit.
The fourth and fifth innings became a real test of endurance for Tanaka as he threw 52 pitches – 26 in each inning – but still managed to suffocate the A’s from gaining additional runs.
The A’s tactics, although unsuccessful, might have provided a way for other teams to attack Tanaka. By creating a war of attrition, Tanaka was withdrawn at the end of the sixth innings after 104 pitches, where he allowed five hits and one walk.
This unconventional tactic gave the A’s the opportunity to attack relievers and even though they couldn’t find a way through, it provided food for thought.
The Yankees were dogged in their defence of their slim 2-1 advantage. Alfonso Soriano snapped his 0-for-16 slump with a hit to right-centre and got round for an RBI at the bottom of the second.
Brett Gardner hit the decisive run in the third inning with a beautiful homer of Drew Pomeranz.
Despite the defeat Pomeranz pitched his best game of 2014, throwing a season-high seven innings for six hits, one walk and two runs (one earned).
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