Can we declare the Masahiro Tanaka crisis over now?
Can we declare the Yankees’ starting pitching crisis over now?
Let’s knock out the smaller perils first and that can lead organically to eradicating the bigger headache, don’t you think? On a lazy Labor Day afternoon at Yankee Stadium, in a game delayed nearly three hours due to rain, the Yankees suffered their first shutout loss of the season, 7-0 to the Rangers, ending a two-game winning streak and, by virtue of the Astros’ 3-2 victory over the Brewers, falling behind Houston in the race for the American League’s postseason home-field advantage.
Behind this negative news, however, stood Tanaka, who put in a yeoman-like effort in the loss: six innings, two runs, seven hits, two walks, five strikeouts; low-leverage relievers Nestor Cortes Jr. and Tyler Lyons, neither of whom is likely to see playoff action, accounted for the final score by allowing five runs over the final two frames.
If Tanaka’s effort didn’t go down as a gem against an opponent that had scored slightly above the AL average entering Monday’s action — “I had to kind of grind throughout the day,” he acknowledged through an interpreter — it proved as more evidence that the right-hander has emerged from the funk that saw him tally a 10.59 ERA over six starts from the end of June through the end of July.