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Tanaka strikes out Ohtani twice in Yankees' win

New York starter fans 8, continues success vs. fellow Japanese star
MLB.com

NEW YORK -- In the highly anticipated showdown between fellow countrymen Masahiro Tanaka and Shohei Ohtani, the Yankees' right-hander came out on top, spinning a solid effort that led New York to a 3-1 victory over the Angels on Sunday afternoon at Yankee Stadium.

In their first meeting since playing against each other in Japan in 2013, Ohtani worked a 3-2 count before striking out on a low-and-away, 85.6-mph splitter. Although this matchup had been the talk of the series, it was not one that Tanaka viewed to be different from the rest.

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NEW YORK -- In the highly anticipated showdown between fellow countrymen Masahiro Tanaka and Shohei Ohtani, the Yankees' right-hander came out on top, spinning a solid effort that led New York to a 3-1 victory over the Angels on Sunday afternoon at Yankee Stadium.

In their first meeting since playing against each other in Japan in 2013, Ohtani worked a 3-2 count before striking out on a low-and-away, 85.6-mph splitter. Although this matchup had been the talk of the series, it was not one that Tanaka viewed to be different from the rest.

View Full Game Coverage

"I think it was a good thing that I was able to face him at this stage, at the Major League level," Tanaka said. "But, I was thinking just get outs there. Yeah, the feeling was pretty much the same."

Video: LAA@NYY: Tanaka, Judge, Bird on 3-1 win over Angels

After waiting more than an hour between plate appearances, Ohtani walked on five pitches in the fourth before Tanaka won the final matchup in the sixth, recording another strikeout on an 88.7-mph splitter.

"He's a challenge. We challenged him a little bit with fastballs up in the strike zone and the off-speed pitch down, but he does a pretty good job of controlling the zone as well," Yankees manager Aaron Boone said of Ohtani. "Overall, we did a good job of staying away from his slug zone ... middle down, that area where he's really dangerous."

The Yankees' offense took advantage of Angels starter Garrett Richards' early struggles in the third inning. After allowing a single to Aaron Judge to start the inning, the right-hander walked Gary Sanchez and Didi Gregorius to load the bases. A free pass to Aaron Hicks put the first run on the board, chasing Richards.

Video: LAA@NYY: Hicks forces in a run with bases-loaded walk

Jose Alvarez replaced Richards and hit Greg Bird on the elbow pad to push another Yankees run across. Miguel Andujar grounded into a fielder's choice at second base that scored the Yankees' final run of the afternoon.

"Today was definitely one of the better ones in recent outings," Tanaka said. "To be able to win in a small-margin game like this, I think it's good. Just looking back, that last home run, that is unacceptable."

Video: LAA@NYY: Simmons launches a solo home run to left

"We needed an outing from him like that," Boone said. "He did a really good job early of establishing his fastball, he used the cutter a little bit, split was good and then turned it over to our guys lined up in the 'pen there. But, an outing we really needed today. Glad to see him go out there and deliver."

Aroldis Chapman worked around a leadoff walk to Ohtani in the ninth inning to pick up his 11th save of the season.

Video: LAA@NYY: Chapman retires Maldonado to earn the save

Ohtani remains hitless in his career against Tanaka, who faced him during his final season in Japan. The then-18-year-old Ohtani went 0-for-11 with six strikeouts, one walk and one hit by pitch against Tanaka.

"I'm not in any position to say if he got better or worse, but I feel like he threw more breaking balls this time around than when he was in Japan," Ohtani said. "It felt a little different because the American pitchers throw mostly fastballs, but he kind of pitched me backwards. That felt a little different."

Video: LAA@NYY: Fan goes all out for Tanaka, Ohtani

YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
Judge recorded the hardest-hit ball of the 2018 season in the third inning when he laced a 119.9-mph single to right-center field. Since 2017, Judge has had five batted balls with an exit velocity of at least 119 mph, while Giancarlo Stanton is the only other player in Major League Baseball to log one. More >>

Video: LAA@NYY: Judge knocks the hardest hit ball of season

"Richards is a guy that has got a really good fastball," Judge said. "He gets it up to the upper 90s. With a guy like him, I've just got to try to stay short and make contact. With his velo, it'll jump a little bit. For me, I was just trying to stay short and get a pitch that I could drive."

UP NEXT
The Yankees will begin a three-game series against the Astros at home Monday afternoon with Domingo German getting his fourth start of the season. German (0-2, 5.59 ERA) is coming off a pair of subpar efforts after throwing six no-hit innings in his first big league start on May 6 against Cleveland. The Astros will send right-hander Justin Verlander (6-2, 1.08) to the mound. Verlander has held his opponents to one earned run or none in five straight starts. First pitch is slated for 1:05 p.m. ET.

Mandy Bell is a reporter for MLB.com based in New York.

New York Yankees, Greg Bird, Aroldis Chapman, Aaron Judge, Shohei Ohtani, Masahiro Tanaka