Tanaka sustains 1st loss since 2012

Masahiro Tanaka will not have an undefeated season this year. It was sort of a dream to expect Tanaka to repeat the 24-0 season he had last year in Japan, but it sure was fun while it lasted.

He got a quarter of the way through with a 6-0 mark after his brilliant four-hit shutout of the Mets at Citi Field last week. Wrigley Field proved tougher turf for the righthander who left the game after six innings and trailing, 4-1. The Yankees could not get Tanaka off the hook and went down to the Cubs, 6-1.

Tanaka was hardly awful. It is just that he has pitched to so high a level that Yankees fans expect excellence. The Cubs laid off his split-fingered fastballs early in the count, and he was up with his breaking pitches. Tanaka allowed four runs (three earned) and eight hits with only one walk and seven strikeouts. He hurt himself with a wild pitch in the third inning that aided in a Chicago run and was wounded in the sixth by first baseman Mark Teixeira’s throwing error that set up an unearned run.

The Yankees also offered slim support offensively for Tanaka. Their only run came on a two-out, RBI single by Teixeira in the sixth off eventual winning pitcher Jason Hammel and then were held scoreless for 3 1/3 innings by five Cubs relievers. They brought some drama to the ninth inning by loading the bases on a bunt single by Yangervis Solarte against the shift and two walks before Derek Jeter grounded out to shortstop to end the game. Cut the Captain some slack considering ran fell heavily throughout his at-bat. He fouled off a 95-mph fastball from righthander Hector Rondon, which was pretty amazing considering the elements.

Cubs second baseman Luis Valbuena had a huge night against Tanaka with two doubles and a single. Third baseman Mike Olt drove in three runs with a single, a sacrifice fly and a bases-loaded walk.

Although he did lose a playoff game last year in the Japan Series, this was Tanaka’s first loss during the regular season since Aug. 19, 2012 for the Seibu Lions to the Rakuten Gold Eagles covering 43 starts. He was 34-0 with eight no-decisions before the Cubs reminded him of the pain of defeat.

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