Masahiro Tanaka flew in early to Seattle expecting to face a former Japanese league teammate.
That didn't happen and he got an extra day of rest before his attempt at his first four-start win streak in the United States.The New York Yankees starter can move into a tie for the major league lead in victories Wednesday night against the Mariners.Tanaka (9-1, 2.02 ERA) traveled Monday ahead of what was supposed to be an outing the next day opposite Seattle's Hisashi Iwakuma, his former teammate in Japan with the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles.But a rainout Monday in Kansas City pushed back Tanaka's attempt to match Toronto's Mark Buehrle at 10 wins. It meant he didn't face Iwakuma, who allowed three runs over 7 1/3 innings in Tuesday's 3-2 loss in the opener of this three-game set.Iwakuma may have some advice for the Mariners (34-30) as they face Tanaka for the first time and try to bounce back from their second loss in 10 games."I do have some tips but that's top secret," he told the Mariners' official website.Tanaka leads the AL in ERA and WHIP (0.96) and has yielded one homer in his last 42 innings. He gave up one run over six innings in last Thursday's 2-1 win over Oakland to post his second three-start win streak.The right-hander has captured all six decisions against AL opponents, and the Yankees (32-31) are always confident when he's on the mound."I think there's an expectation when he goes out there that he's going to give you distance, that he's going to shut them down," manager Joe Girardi said.New York is no doubt less confident about its offense, which has failed to produce more than four runs in any of its last 11 games.The one hitter who has been producing is Jacoby Ellsbury, who singled in Derek Jeter with the go-ahead run in the eighth inning Tuesday. Ellsbury is batting .375 during a 14-game hitting streak -- the longest by a Yankee since Jeter's 19-game run in 2012."This type of game is the type of win that has been eluding us," Ellsbury said. "Hopefully, if we can win these types of games we'll be in great shape."Former Yankees second baseman Robinson Cano had two hits to extend his modest streak to eight games.Right fielder Michael Saunders went 0 for 4 in his return to the Seattle lineup after missing three games with a sore right shoulder. First baseman Justin Smoak missed a fourth straight start with a sore left leg.The Mariners will start right-hander Chris Young (5-3, 3.42), who yielded two runs over 5 2/3 innings to earn a 6-3 win at New York on April 29.Young is also 3-0 with a 1.89 ERA in five home starts.Former Seattle great Ichiro Suzuki is 8 for 22 versus Young, who has enjoyed success against Jeter (1 for 10), Mark Teixeira (1 for 11) and Brian McCann (2 for 15). Young has never faced Ellsbury.Ex-Mariners reliever Shawn Kelley is expected to rejoin the Yankees bullpen Wednesday. Kelley, who pitched for Seattle from 2009-12, has not been on the mound since May 6 due to a back strain.
Yu Darvish threw his first career shutout Wednesday while Masahiro Tanaka threw his second career complete game. It's the first time in MLB history two Japanese-born pitchers threw complete games in a single day.
Tanaka has shined this season thanks to a dominant splitter. Of his 103 strikeouts, 53 have come via the splitter... that's over double anyone else in the majors. He struck out 5 more batters yesterday with it.