Masahiro Tanaka picks up 11th win despite disappointment with outing

Masahiro Tanaka
Masahiro Tanaka battled through six innings for a win Tuesday.
Credit: Getty Images

Masahiro Tanaka was not impressed with his stuff and said he struggled to hit spots Tuesday night.

If allowing one run and five hits while striking out 10 in six innings is the definition of not having his best stuff, the Yankees will gladly take that every time.

That is what they received during Tanaka’s 11th win and it led them to a 3-1 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays.

Tanaka faced the Blue Jays for the second time, marking the first of five straight projected starts he will make against teams that have seen him before. It looked like the Blue Jays had a read on him early with four hits in three innings against his four-seam fastball.

Former Mets shortstop Jose Reyes hit a first-pitch home run to right field in the first. It was the second time Tanaka allowed a leadoff home run to Toronto, after giving up one to Melky Cabrera in his major league debut April 4, but by his estimation the first he had ever allowed on the first pitch of a game.

“I don’t feel I was making any adjustments,” Tanaka said through an interpreter. “Overall I think my stuff was not really that good. All I was trying to do was try to hang in there and keep the ball down.”

Eventually he dominated the final three innings for his fifth straight win, 14th straight quality start and 12th win by the Yankees when he pitches.

The most impressive display during Tanaka’s 104-pitch night came in the fifth when he fanned Cabrera on a splitter, Jose Bautista on a slider and Edwin Encarnacion on another splitter to end the inning.

“I think just giving up that home run kind of threw me off my rhythm a little bit,” Tanaka said. “So I just said to myself that I really need to hang in there and not give in.”

“He just threw a pitch down the middle and up to start the game,” said manager Joe Girardi, who won his 600th game with the team. “Reyes is very familiar with this ballpark and he knows what to do with it. He jumped out on it, went for the short part of the park and hit it out. Then he just started doing what he does.”

Tanaka continued living up to the hype, though it’s fair to say nobody expected it. In an era where pitcher wins are not considered as important as in the past, Tanaka’s have been vital. His other numbers back it up, including 113 strikeouts in 99 2/3 innings against 16 walks and 79 hits allowed.

“I don’t think it’s fair to expect that from anyone,” Girardi said. “I don’t care what your stuff is. I don’t care if you throw 110 [mph]. What he’s done has been remarkable and he has been a big part of our success this year and he continues to just grind out starts and make adjustments and give us distance. He wins.”

Tanaka threw 66-of-104 pitches for strikes and had six three-ball counts. He also held the Blue Jays to one hit in 10 at-bats with men on base as the Yankees improved to 12-2 in his starts.

“I feel that I was not able to make my pitches,” Tanaka said. “I was not able to hit the spots.”

Tanaka’s night ended when he stranded designated hitter Juan Francisco at second by retiring second baseman Munenori Kawasaki, who was 18-for-64 (.281) off Tanaka in Japan.

Tanaka’s start against the best lineup he’s faced all year can be measured with grit.

“He’s been really good,” said David Robertson, who picked up his 17th save with a scoreless ninth. “He battled his butt off. It was hot and sticky and he did a great job.”

Follow Yankees beat writer Larry Fleisher on Twitter @LarryFleisher.


NYPD looking for man they say assaulted elderly…

      The New York City Police Department is asking for the public's assistance in locating a Hispanic male 20's wanted in connection with…


Three arrested after allegedly assaulting off-duty officer in…

Three men were arrested early Saturday morning after allegedly assaulting an off-duty officer at a Bronx bodega, and the NYPD is asking for the public's…


Healthcare union creates vibrant West Indian Day Parade…

Volunteers worked almost around the clock through the weekend, putting the flashy finishing touches on hundreds of costume pieces 1199SEIU members will wear while marching…


Top 10 most hipster college campuses

Hipsters are everywhere these days. You can't walk down the anywhere anymore without seeing a pair of skinny jeans on a handlebar mustachioed 20-something, a…


Theater: Discouraging 'Poor Behavior'

Theresa Rebeck's latest off-Broadway play, about two couples sparring on a weekend getaway, repeats a few mistakes of her past.


Chef Todd English arrested for DWI in the…

Celebrity chef Todd English is facing DWI charges after a traffic stop on Sunday.


Box office: 'Guardians of the Galaxy' is 2014's…

This weekend "The Guardians of the Galaxy" passed the fourth "Transformers" movie to become the highest grossing film of 2014.


Spears back with controversial ex?

Is Briteny Spears back with Adnan Ghalib?


Novak Djokovic feeds off US Open crowd to…

Novak Djokovic isn't a native New Yorker, but he sure knows how to use the U.S. Open crowd to his advantage.


Odell Beckham still 'weeks away,' Tom Coughlin angry…

Giants head coach Tom Coughlin has fought a losing battle against the media all preseason over the status of wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr.


3 things we learned in the Giants preseason…

The final score didn’t matter — a 16-13 win by the Giants — but it would’ve been nice to finally see Big Blue’s new-look offense get on track.


NFL Power Rankings: Seahawks, Broncos, Patriots, 49ers start…

NFL Power Rankings: Seahawks, Broncos, Patriots start at top


These college students think breakfast is the most…

  It should be no surprise that the city that never sleeps is also home to the most students who like to order food in…


When it comes to dating, height matters

Does a man’s height really matter when it comes to dating? Unfortunately - according to a new study - the answer looks like it’s yes.…


10 free apps to make traveling easier

Finding the nearest bathroom, calculating currency exchanges and locating your departure gate must have been difficult for travelers of previous generations. But we wouldn't know,…


How to get a seat upgrade to business…

It used to be much easier to upgrade your coach seat to business or even first class, but rigid rules and tighter schedules have made…