Tanaka still undefeated thanks to Yanks’ comeback
Masahiro Tanaka still has a shot at another unbeaten season. He came close to sustaining his first loss in the major leagues Sunday night but got off to hook when the Yankees tied the score in the bottom of the seventh inning against the Angels and went on to a 3-2 victory despite totaling only three hits.
Tanaka, who was 24-0 in Japan last year, pitched well enough to win but came out of the game trailing, 2-1, with one out in the top of the seventh. The Yankees had only two hits off Angels starter Garrett Richards at that point, but Mark Teixeira got them even with his second home run of the season, a bomb to right field off a 2-2 fastball.
That kept Tanaka’s record at 3-0. The righthander struggled somewhat with his command. He walked four batters, twice as many as he had combined over his first four starts, and hit one. But Tanaka piled up 11 strikeouts and pitched exceedingly well with men on base, which the Angels had regularly with five hits in addition to the walks and the hit batter.
However, Tanaka kept Los Angeles hitless in seven at-bats with runners in scoring position as the Angels left seven runners on base over the first five innings. They loaded the bases in the fourth on a leadoff double by Erick Aybar, a hit batter and a walk with one out but got only one run on a fielder’s choice. Tanaka ended the inning with a strikeout of Collin Cowgill with Mike Trout on deck.
The Yankees made it 1-1 in the fifth. Richards walked Teixeira to start the inning and gave up a one-out double to Brian Roberts. The Angels kept the infield back conceding a run, and Ichiro Suzuki complied with a ground ball to shortstop.
Tanaka was taken deep by David Freese on a first-pitch fastball leading off the sixth and then did not allow another base runner. It took Tex’s drive the next inning to stick Tanaka with a no-decision. Tanaka’s 46 strikeouts are the third highest total for a rookie pitcher in his first five starts, the most since the Nationals’ Stephen Strasburg had 48 in 2010. The major league record is 50 by the Indians’ Herb Score in 1955.
The winning decision went to Adam Warren (1-1), who pitched 1 2/3 innings of shutout relief and benefit from the Yanks getting a gift run in the eight from the leaky Angels bullpen as the result of two walks, a passed ball and a wild pitch. David Robertson struck out pinch hitter Raul Ibanez with a runner on second base to end the game and earned his fourth save.