Masahiro Tanaka continued his mesmerising start to life in MLB against Minnesota Twins after conceding just one run in the Yankees’ 3-1 victory.
Tanaka sits in fifth place in the pitching stats league and is the top rookie this season. His stats demonstrate how Tanaka has found life in America a breeze after switching from Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles in his native Japan during the off-season.
Tanaka has a 8-1 record from 11 games played with a 2.06 ERA, an improvement on his record in Japan, and has the second-most strikeouts in the MLB with 88, four behind Cincinnati Reds star Johnny Cueto who has pitched a game more.
Last night’s victory at Yankee Stadium saw Tanaka pitch eight innings for just a single run off four hits – all singles. The dominance of the Japanese pitcher has got opposition managers scratching their heads about trying to approach the pitcher.
The 25-year-old took another nine strikeouts in his 106-pitch game and left Twins manager Ron Gardenhire in disbelief.
Speaking to MLB.com, Gardenhire said: “He was good. We’re still adjusting to him. He’s definitely the most backwards pitcher I’ve ever faced, because in hitter's’ counts he was going off-speed and vice-versa. He pitches off that split-finger.”
Tanaka’s technique, mastered in his home country, has managed to trick nearly every opponent he has faced this season. The only defeat Tanaka has suffered this season was a 6-1 loss to Chicago Cubs, when the pitcher conceded four runs in six innings.
Although Tanaka had an off day the deal has been that the Yankees batters supply a score that Tanaka can defend. But on May 20 against the Cubs they didn’t perform enough to help out Tanaka which has proved to be one small blip on an outstanding record.
What the rest of the MLB need to figure out is how to stop Tanaka and in particular his splitter pitches, otherwise the trick will continue to fool them.
But for Tanaka it is about stopping the Yankees team rather than the individual.
Speaking to MLB.com via an interpreter, Tanaka said: “For the offense, there’s good times and there’s bad times, but obviously for myself as a pitcher what I’m basically trying to do is go out there and get as many noughts up as possible.
"I don't look at myself as an ace. All I'm trying to do is go up there on the mound each start and try to give my best out there and just try to beat the opponent.”
Unfortunately for the humble Tanaka, if he keeps pitching like this into the post-season, he is the ace in the Yankees’ deck.
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