The New York Yankees are a very good offensive team, but when it comes to their pitching, the only reliable player they have right now is Masahiro Tanaka who continued his impressive debut season with a 4-hitter and a shutout in a complete game against the New York Mets, paving the way towards a 4-0 win.
With the victory the Yankees are back above .500, tied with the Red Sox and trailing the Orioles by 0.5 games. Tanaka completed nine innings to get his sixth win (6-0, 2.17 ERA), allowing only four hits and striking out eight batters, not allowing a single walk. David Wright was hitless while former Yankee, Curtis Granderson, didn’t get a chance to advance as well with his batting average dropping to .200.
It was going to be rough for the Mets no matter what. Tanaka loves throwing to the lower part of the strike zone, something Mets players have struggled with all season, connecting only at a .198 rate with pitches going to the lower third of the strike zone, the sixth-worst mark in the majors. Daniel Murphy, who is hitting .318 so far this season, was able to get a hit off of Tanaka, but those rare moments of decent offense had not continuation and were too few and far from enough.
The Yankees had no problem generating offense, as Brian Roberts hit two triples in the game. His first triple coming in the second inning gave the Yankees their first run, helping Yangervis reach home plate. Two innings later Solarte hit his fourth home run of the season with no one on base but two already out. Mark Teixeira hit another home run off of Rafael Montero, his 8th of the season, to make it a 3-0 lead, as it seemed there was no catching up with them this day. Derek Jeter with an infield single allowed Brett Gardner to make it a fourth run for the Yankees in the series opener at Citi Field.
Tanaka and Roberts stood above the rest in terms of impressive games. The last player age 36 or older to hit two triples in a game was Omar Vizquel in 2006 (twice at age 39), and the last Yankees player over the age of 36 to hit two triples in one game was Felipe Alou in 1971. This was Roberts’ third triple of the season, and the second baseman has been hitting .243 this season following his 2-for-4 performance.
All eyes, as expected, were on Tanaka after the game. He is the first Yankees rookie to begin his career at 6-0 since Hall-of-Famer Whitey Ford went 9-0 in 12 starts in 1950. He is also only the second Yankees player to shut out the Mets, following Andy Pettitte in 2002. Tanaka is the only pitcher in the AL with so many wins and still no losses; his WHIP (0.91) is the top of the league, his ERA is third and he’s striking out 10.24 batters per nine innings, fourth-best in the league.
The Yankees need more than just him in what looks like a tough division this season, but Tanaka seems to be worth every dollar spent on him to bring him over from Japan. It might be too soon to firmly decide he is a huge hit, but there doesn’t seem to be any sign of anything wrong so far.