It had been almost two years since Masahiro Tanaka had suffered a defeat on the mound as he was carrying a 6-0 record into Tuesday night’s start for the New York Yankees against the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field.
On Tuesday night, Tanaka tasted defeat for the first time dating back to August of 2012 while pitching in Japan as the Cubs knocked off the Yankees 6-1 in the first of two games at Wrigley Field.
Tanaka, going up against veteran right-hander Jason Hammel, struggled with his command but still battled the young Cubs lineup, but the Chicago hitters eventually got to him. Emilio Bonifacio got the Cubs on the board with an RBI single in the bottom of the third inning that made it 1-0. Mike Olt’s RBI single in the bottom of the fourth inning made it 2-0 for the Cubs.
The Yankees did get a run back and were back in the game in the top of the sixth inning when the Yankees hottest hitter, Mark Teixeira, hit an RBI single to drive in Brett Gardner and made it 2-1. The Yankees had a chance to tie the game in the sixth inning after Brian McCann was walked by Hammel and Alfonso Soriano was up against his old team with a chance to do some damage, but he grounded out to third and ended the Yankees scoring threat.
Hammel, a potential trade target this summer for teams, went 5.2 innings, allowed one run on four hits, walked one and struck out six and lowered his ERA down to 2.91.
The Cubs gave Hamme some of the runs back when Olt hit a sacrifice fly off Tanaka to make it 3-1 in the bottom of the sixth inning which was followed by a sac fly by John Baker that made it 4-1.
Tanaka pitched six innings, allowed four runs; three of which were earned on eight hits, walked one and struck out seven. In the loss, his ERA was raised to a 2.39 from 2.17, which is still tremendous, but on Tuesday night, he simply didn’t have his best stuff, but even so, Tanaka still battled and fought, but a lack of run support mixed in with sloppy command did in the 25-year-old.
The Yankees bullpen allowed two more runs to the Cubs as they were able to cruise to a 6-1 victory in the first of the short two-game set at Wrigley Field. Hammel got the win and improved to 5-2, Tanaka took the loss and dropped to 6-1.
On the season, Tanaka has 73 strikeouts now through 64 innings with eight walks in nine starts so far for the Yankees. When the Yankees signed Tanaka in the winter and if were told that his first loss wouldn’t be until May 20, they’d sign up for it because he’s been everything they can hope for and this game was just one bad start that the Yankees couldn’t bail him out of.
In his first game back since being traded to the Yankees from the Cubs, Soriano went 0-for-4 with a strikeout while playing right field; he wasn’t booed by the Cubs faithful in attendance like some other players do after leaving a team following a trade or free agency.
On Wednesday afternoon, it’s a Chicago matinee as Chase Whitley (0-0, 0.00 ERA) will look to improve on his second start of the season for the Yankees and look to earn the split with the Cubs as he opposes Cubs ace Jeff Samardzija (0-4, 1.62 ERA), Samardzija has been heavily linked to the Yankees this year as another potential trade target for the summer.
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