May
14

Stopper: Tanaka snaps four-game skid with 4-0 shutout of Mets

By

No matter how long the losing streak gets and no matter how much the other starters get knocked around, every fifth day there is Masahiro Tanaka to make things right. The Yankees ace chucked his first career MLB shutout on Wednesday night, carrying his team to a 4-0 win over the Mets. It was their first Subway Series win since 2012. I’m taking about an individual game, not the whole season series.

"When do the Major League games start?" (Al Bello/Getty)

“When do the Major League games start?” (Al Bello/Getty)

Total Domination
The Yankees have won five games in the month of May and Tanaka has been on the mound for three of them. He was in total control on Wednesday, basically playing a game of catch with catcher Brian McCann and having his way with opposing hitters all night. Tanaka allowed three singles and one double in his nine scoreless innings, striking out eight and generating 22 swings and misses out of 114 low-stress pitches. He face the minimum three hitters in six of nine innings and only faced four batters in the other three innings.

The Mets did not have a runner reach third base against Tanaka and only two made it as far as second. Tanaka threw a first pitch strike to 21 of 30 batters and only went to three three-ball counts all night. By Game Score (87), this was the best pitched game by a Yankees starter since … Tanaka last month. He also had an 87 Game Score in that game against the Cubs (8 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 10 K). Tanaka is the first Yankee with two 87+ Game Scores in a single season since Mike Mussina in 2002. It’s only May.

And just because what he did on the mound wasn’t enough, Tanaka slapped a ground ball single back up the middle for his first career MLB hit in the ninth inning. You know a pitcher has done his job when he get four at-bats in a game. Tanaka was masterful, putting hitters away with every pitch in his arsenal — he got a swing-and-miss with five different pitches and at least six whiffs with three different pitches (four-seamer, splitter, slider) according to Brooks Baseball — and never once ran into trouble. This guy is in total control when he’s on the mound. It’s a blast to watch.

(Elsa/Getty)

(Elsa/Getty)

One Run, Four Times
The Yankees built something of a picket fence in the middle innings, scoring one run in each of the second, fourth, sixth, and seventh innings. The first run scored because Mets left fielder Eric Young Jr. made the bone-headed decision to dive for a soft line drive, only to fall short and watch the ball scoot by him for a Brian Roberts triple. Yangervis Solarte drew a walk before that and came around to score. There were two outs in the inning and Tanaka was due to hit. Why in the world is he diving? Whatever.

The second and third runs were pretty straight forward: Solarte jumped all over a 3-1 fastball for his fourth homer — if he starts regularly hitting dingers, oh boy — and Mark Teixeira yanked a 1-0 pitch out into the bullpen for his team-leading eighth homer. Solarte’s was a annihilated and he hit it with style too, dropping to one knee a la Adrian Beltre. Here is the requisite GIF:

Yangervis Solarte

Outstanding.

The Yankees scored their fourth run with two hits that traveled maybe 100 feet combined. Brett Gardner beat out an infield single to second base, stole second, moved to third on a wild pitch, and scored on Derek Jeter‘s chopper out in front of the plate. The throw pulled first baseman Lucas Duda off the bag and Jeter was safe, which was good because they were two outs in the inning. I wonder if Joe Girardi would have gone to David Robertson in the ninth inning if the score was 3-0 instead of 4-0? I guess we’ll never know.

The Yankees had at least one man on base in seven of nine innings and really worked rookie right-hander Rafael Montero hard early on. He threw 69 pitches in the first three innings — at one point he and Tuesday’s starter Zack Wheeler had combined to throw 187 pitches to get 22 outs — and wound up throwing 108 pitches in six innings. He faced 25 hitters and had to throw at least four pitches to 14 of them. The Yankees really wore Montero down in his MLB debut. They have now scored at least four runs in each of their last eight games, their longest such streak since doing it in 12 straight back in July 2012.

Three rookies. (Getty)

Three rookies. (Getty)

Leftovers
Roberts went 2-for-4 with two triples, the first two-triple game of his career. He was pretty awesome and fast back in the day. I figured he would have had two triples in one game at some point, but I guess not. It’s the first two-triple game by a Yankee since Curtis Granderson in 2010. Gardner had two more hits and is 22-for-62 (.355) in his last 16 games. Jeter (single), Teixeira (homer), Solarte (homer), and Tanaka (single) had the other hits while Jacoby Ellsbury and Solarte drew walks.

The daily defensive miscue did not come back to bite the Yankees on Wednesday. In the bottom of the first, as he was trotting out to shallow right field for the shift, Solarte got caught with his back to infield and Daniel Murphy stole second base uncontested. The Mets tried it again in the fifth inning, but Solarte was paying attention and he got to the bag in time to receive the throw and tag out Chris Young.

And finally, Tanaka is pretty awesome. I just needed to say that again. I’m sure you understand.

Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings
For the box score and video highlights, go to MLB.com. For some additional stats, go to FanGraphs. For the updated standings, go to ESPN. The Yankees have lost nine of their last 14 games are still a half-game back of the Orioles for the division lead. The AL East sucks this year.


Source: FanGraphs

Up Next
The Yankees and Mets wrap up the 2014 Subway Series on Thursday night at Citi Field. The starters — Chase Whitley and Jacob deGrom — will both be making their MLB debuts. It will be the first time two starters make their big league debut in one game since September 2010 (Dillon Gee and Yunesky Maya) according to @BRefPlayIndex. Neat. Check out RAB Tickets if you want to catch the game live.

106 Comments»

  1. Chip Rodriguez says:

    I can’t wait until Tuesday, and Tanaka’s next start.

  2. forensic says:

    Tanaka was masterful, putting hitters away with every pitch in his arsenal

    Absolutely! For those people who still try to cling to the belief that he can only get K’s on his splitter, just look at the 7th inning tonight. Struck out the side with the first K on a slider, second K on a curveball, and third K on a fastball. It was an absolute thing of beauty.

    • JohnnyC says:

      That went over Terry Collins’ head because he said in the post-game: “He’s not the same guy I saw in Japan. He threw harder.” So, that’s about all he knows about pitching. Good luck managing those phenoms, Metsies.

    • ALZ says:

      His splitter is his pitch though. Opposing batters fear it enough that it plays up all his other pitches, they swing at stuff so they don’t have to face that thing.

  3. lightSABR says:

    Jorge: Buy the shirt.

  4. ALZ says:

    Got kind of boring towards the end. Tanaka really was in absolute control. Really makes the other starters in the rotation that much more pathetic that he did that so easily.

  5. Eric Young says:

    Tanaka (and Solarte!) makes watching our 2014 team of mediocrity enjoyable as I count down to what I hope will be another 1/2 billion in FA signings this winter.

    Please, Hal: Rebuild as your dad taught you to rebuild.

    • Deep Thoughts says:

      By hiring a thug to plant incriminating evidence on Dave Winfield and getting suspended for it?

      • NYMVP76 says:

        Core four result of that suspension. A great happenstance in Yankee lore.

        • Darren says:

          Bernie too, right? Wouldn’t George have gotten rid of “soft” Bernie and kept Mel Hall if not for Stick being in charge?

      • Eric Young says:

        I’ve got no problem if Hal has a thug contribute to keeping A-Rod off next year’s roster.

        But I really don’t want Hal to waste Tanaka’s prime years: bring in Scherzer and Lester (or Price), Ramirez and Headley this offseason.

        The $450M spent this winter only got us to mediocrity. Drop $600M more* next winter and look towards two or three visits to the WS.

        *Easy ’cause it’s not my money, but Hal’s dad realized that the money always made it’s way back to the family.

    • Nick says:

      I’d add Teixeira to that list at this point. Have pretty much no confidence in him staying healthy for the rest of the season but he’s looking good right now and we can but dream!

  6. Jorge Steinbrenner says:

    ‘Naka Night. Enough said.

    Better than I could have ever imagined.

    God knows what tomorrow’s game brings for either team.

    • vicki says:

      taking the john rocker out to flushing tomorrow. i’m more excited for whitley-degrom than i probably have a right to be.

  7. El Maestro says:

    Jeter is just brutal now. I forgot last time he put the ball in the air (I think it was the HR)… And that includes pop-outs.

    • forensic says:

      Technically, his last ball in the air was actually the popped up bunt in his first AB on Sunday against Matt Garza.

      Before that, yes, his last ball in the air on a full swing was his homer one week and 26 PA’s ago.

      • WhittakerWalt says:

        Yeesh. And he only got good wood on that one because it was a hanger. The boy is crap against a fastball.

        • El Maestro says:

          Yeah, but he is in total denial… I remember him telling MM in the postgame “I guess I’m young again”.

          Brutal.

      • El Maestro says:

        Oh I forgot the popout in the bunt…

        I guess the farewell tour policies don’t allow to bat him lower than 2nd.

      • mustang says:

        Hey forensic,

        I’m not a numbers guy (we all know..lol) and I know that you are can you tell me how Jeter compares to other SS in the league sabermetricly?

        Because looking at the ESPN stats he doesn’t seem as bad as one would think.

        • mustang says:

          Btw as much as I love Jeter I agree that hey should move him off the 2nd spot.

        • WhittakerWalt says:

          Without looking at a single number I’d say he probably still compares favorably to most shortstops… with the bat. Shortstops really can’t hit at all, for the most part.
          The fact that he’s completely unacceptable on defense is where it really breaks down. If you’re going to hit like a shortstop you have to field like a shortstop.

        • forensic says:

          24 qualified SS’s in the majors. Jeter is 14th in wOBA and 16th in wRC+, and 19th in WAR. Though you can’t take too much from a quarter season worth of defensive metrics, he’s 19th (out of 28) in UZR, 21st in UZR/150, and t-21st in DRS.

          Trust me, there are plenty of people here more sabermetrically-inclined than me (and I don’t always agree with how it seems they come up with the numbers and how much credit they give to certain things), but he’s basically a little below the midpoint offensively and worse than that defensively and overall (though, again, the defensive stuff is tough to buy into in this sort a time span).

          • mustang says:

            Ok thank you so much can’t say I understand all of it, but it gives me an idea of how he compares.

          • Looser trader droids FotD™ says:

            Funny about the distance traveled comment in Mike’s write up.

            I bet that if you could come up with a per hit ranking for distance and/or velocity of the batted ball, Jeter would be last.

  8. Mike says:

    Tanaka is the best pitcher we’ve developed in years.

    Gotta love how our farm is really coming through this year.

  9. Tanuki Tanaka says:

    The slight OCD in me is a tad annoyed that they scored in the 7th and not the 8th, or it would look like 0 1 0 1 0 1 0 1 0 on the scoreboard.

    Cashman failed.

    On a more serious note I’m a tad surprised to find out the last two-triple game was that recent for us.

  10. mustang says:

    “Super Solo: How good has Yangervis Solarte hit this season? These are the names of the past three rookies to lead the league in hitting heading into game No. 39 or later: Mike Trout, Hanley Ramirez and Solarte. ”

    SEROUSLY!!!
    I guess those 8 years in the minors taught him something.

    Read very cool story on Chase Whitley and how he beat the odds. He is my next pick for a Solarte- type story.

    Give me guys that are hungry and beat odds I will take them to war anytime.

    • mustang says:

      Chase Whitely story in Newsday.

    • Paco Dooley says:

      Solarte leading the league in BA still reminds me of Melky leading the NL before being suspended. I hope he is clean and I hope he continues to look great. I also hope that he continues to out WAR Cano.

  11. The sad part is a) Has anyone seen Solarte shirts? and b) I can’t afford them. :(

    I really love Solarte, and even he flames out, his impact is to not be underrated.

  12. WhittakerWalt says:

    BUT WE’RE NOT SUPPOSED TO SIGN BIG NAME FREE AGENTS!!!

  13. Chris G says:

    If everyone can please say a prayer that Tanaka pitches at the June 14th game in Oakland as I will be there. Thank you.

  14. Cheval Anonyme says:

    Tanaka is our savior.

    I’ve been lax on this, but here’s a Yangervis Solarte anagram:

    “Evangelist Rosary”

  15. Andrew 518 says:

    I’m sure it has been mentioned before but can anyone kindly explain why they were wearing those stupid hats tonight?

  16. BigBlueAL says:

    Tanaka is the first Yankee rookie SP to throw a shutout since El Duque in 1998.

  17. RetroRob says:

    Player A: .301/.355/.385 with 1 HR.
    Player B: .336/.414/.521 with 3 HRs.

    • vicki says:

      yan has four!

    • Deep Thoughts says:

      Player A: Nunie in 6 games with the Twinkies
      Player B: 2014 AL MVP Evangelist Rosary

    • Lukaszek says:

      Plot twist: Player 1 is actually cheating on Player 2 with Player 3. Unfortunately, Player 3 is cheating on Player 1 with Player 4. Not to be outdone, Player 2 and 4 are cheating on each other with both, Players 1 and 3. Then it turns out that Player 3 is actually gay and has the hots for a male waiter who is named Ricardo. Stay tuned!

      • Jim Is A (Bored) Peckerhead says:

        Player 1 leaves Grand Central Station on a train headed to Union Station at 3:45 pm. The train is traveling at 45 mph. Player 2 leaves Union station at 3:55 and his train is traveling 55 mph. At what time will player 1 and player 2 pass one another?

      • Mr. Roth says:

        Stay tuned to find out how this relates to players A & B!

  18. YesWeMcCann says:

    Let’s all calm down about this Tanaka guy. Remember: Adam Jones said he was “nothing special.” When Jones speaketh, we all listen. He’s one of the great baseball minds of our time.

    • Looser trader droids FotD™ says:

      Exactly. Like the guy who said that if OBP were important they’d put it on the scoreboard.

  19. willie w says:

    now if the yanks had invested the money they put into CC into Darvish instead boy would they be looking much better now

  20. Patrick says:

    My solution to the Yankees problems:

    Clone Tanaka about 4 times over.

    Last night proves that this game is all about pitching.
    It was a joy to watch.

    • Mike HC says:

      Do you think the Rakuten Golden Eagles gets a posting fee for each clone? Did they have the foresight to add a clone clause into the contract?

  21. Naka Nights - Official Holiday says:

    Going to the game on Sunday, missing Naka Day by one game!

    What a game by Naka, oh god do I love him.

  22. Mike HC says:

    If we can win 90% of Tanaka starts, and then split the rest, that puts us over 90 wins. Yes, that is the plan.

  23. JoeyA says:

    If this team is actually in the business of winning, DJ shouldnt be batting above 7th. He is a human GIDP.

    • Masahiro Nakamura says:

      I don’t think it will happen. Maybe in the playoffs. Jeter is too respected to be dropped imo (as much as I want it to happen)

  24. Looser trader droids FotD™ says:

    Man do I love this Tanaka fella.

    Rooting for this team right now reminds me of rooting during most of the Mattingly years. For 4-5 PAs each game I was riveted. For the rest? Not so much (and yes that includes Winfield and Henderson, for whom I just never felt the love).

    1/5 games I’m all over it. The rest is paaaaaaainful.

  25. jgibs says:

    Tanaka and pray for rain

  26. pinedamaybegreata (formerly Monterowasdinero) says:

    First rookie Yankee starting pitcher to go 6-0 since Whitey Ford in 1950.

    Awesome.

  27. fred robbins says:

    it’s mesmerizing to watch Tanaka pitch. He stands out there in complete control with the look of a General on the battlefield telling his troops- don’t worry- I got it covered… the only scary moments in the game were watching his 9th inning pitch count rise while balls were being hit at Jeter and Robertson warming up in the pen… whew– Tanaka is just truly amazing. and 5 days from now, it will be fun to watch another Yankee game:-)

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