Japanese pitching ace Masahiro Tanaka delivered a dazzling 10 strikeouts and allowed just two bunt singles Wednesday in the New York Yankees’ 3-0 win over the Chicago Cubs.
Tanaka, unfazed by unseasonably chilly weather at Yankee Stadium – where snow fell overnight – walked just one for the second time in three starts this season.
He lowered his earned-run-average from 3.21 to 2.05, drawing praise from Yankees manager Joe Girardi for his smooth transition to America’s major leagues.
“He’s pitched really well and we’re really happy with what he’s done,” Girardi said.
Tanaka had retired 15 straight Cubs batters before Anthony Rizzo’s bunt single against the infield shift to begin the seventh inning.
Tanaka responded by retiring the final six batters he faced – striking out three – before he was replaced by relief pitcher Shawn Kelly to start the ninth.
“He had outstanding command and good command of the splitter,” Girardi said. “He’s pitched really well so far. We’ve been pleased with the adjustments he’s made during the game. That’s important to me.”
Carlos Beltran homered and Jacoby Ellsbury went 1-for-3 with an RBI for the Yankees, who have won three straight.
They had a second game against the Cubs on their slate Wednesday night, after Tuesday night’s scheduled game was postponed by rain.
Dean Anna, starting at shortstop for Derek Jeter, drove in the other run for the Yankees, who have won four of five overall and improved to 5-3 on their current nine-game homestand.
Rizzo finished with two hits and Junior Lake had the other bunt single for the Cubs, who lost their third straight game.
Tanaka, a 25-year-old right hander, arrived Stateside after a brilliant 24-0 season with a 1.27 earned run average and 183 strike-outs last year for the Rakuten Golden Eagles in Japan.
He was signed in the off-season to a seven-year, $155 million (112 million euros) contract by the Yankees.