First of all, I'd like to take the time to thank Masahiro Tanaka for being a total badass and allowing me to do these posts about him every five days. With that said, let's see what happened against the Blue Jays. The night got off to an inauspicious start when Jose Reyes took Tanaka deep on the first pitch of the game:
But then Edwin Encarnacion hit a single:
Then Brett Lawrie hit a single:
And just when you thought that maybe the Blue Jays were going to be the ones to break through and have a big inning against Tanaka, he strikes out Dioner Navarro for the third out (low splitter pitch 4):
The one thing I love about watching Tanaka is that his "bad" games would be considered excellent starts for the majority of starters in the majors. If someone else gave up a home run on the first pitch of the game and had two runners on with a chance to have a big inning, a lot of pitchers would buckle under the pressure. Not Tanaka. Boom. Strikeout.
And speaking of strikeouts, he sat down Reyes, Cabrera, Bautista and Encarnacion in a row from the top of the 4th through the top of the 5th inning. All of the strikeouts were swinging and three out of the four were on the low splitter. In fact, our own Katie Sharp tweeted this stat last night, "All 10 of Tanaka's strikeouts came in lower-third of zone or below (mid-thigh to the ground.)"
Reyes (low splitter pitch 5):
Cabrera (low splitter pitch 5):
Bautista (slider over the plate pitch 6):
Encarnacion (splitter low pitch 4):
Tanaka gave up only five hits last night, here they are in hit chart form:
Tanaka now has a strikeout to walk ratio of 113/16. That is amazing. And after the game, he told reporters that he thought his outing was just "okay" and that he'd make the necessary adjustments. If a 10 strikeout performance is just okay, I'm really looking forward to an excellent start from Tanaka.
[Graphs and numbers courtesy of ESPN Stats and Info Dept]