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Tanaka's wild 'assist' on sharp out forces exit

@SlangsOnSports
May 18, 2019

NEW YORK -- Yankees starter Masahiro Tanaka unwittingly helped his own cause in the sixth inning of Saturday's 2-1 extra-innings loss to the Rays, but it came at a cost. With two outs and what would've been the tying run on second, Yandy Díaz smoked a 111.3-mph grounder off Tanaka's

NEW YORK -- Yankees starter Masahiro Tanaka unwittingly helped his own cause in the sixth inning of Saturday's 2-1 extra-innings loss to the Rays, but it came at a cost.

With two outs and what would've been the tying run on second, Yandy Díaz smoked a 111.3-mph grounder off Tanaka's right leg. The grounder ricocheted to first baseman Luke Voit, who stepped on the bag for the final out of the inning, preserving the Yankees' 1-0 lead.

Box score

But after returning to the dugout, Tanaka had a brief exchange with the trainer, then proceeded down the tunnel. It was the final pitch of the game for Tanaka, who finished his six innings with six strikeouts, three hits and no walks allowed on 88 pitches. X-rays came back negative for the injury, which was determined to be a right shin contusion. Diaz's shot was the second-hardest-hit batted ball Tanaka had allowed all year.

“We’ll just have to see how he comes in tomorrow and how he bounces back in these next couple days,” manager Aaron Boone said after the game about whether he was concerned the injury might affect Tanaka moving forward.

Asked about making his next start, Tanaka echoed similar sentiments.

“Can’t say for now, we’ll see how it is tomorrow, and I guess we can evaluate moving forward from there,” Tanaka said after the game through an interpreter.

Though it ended prematurely at 88 pitches and six scoreless innings, Tanaka’s outing was yet another encouraging start -- his fourth straight allowing three runs or fewer and fifth of the season allowing one run or fewer.

“He’s been pitching really well,” said Boone. “And I thought again today, the slider was really good for him. The split was a factor. And I thought he really executed with his fastball to really keep them honest. He didn’t make any mistakes with his fastball and was really in command of that game until finally he had to come out. Another strong effort from him.”

The Rays tied it an inning after the injury occurred, when Brandon Lowe led off with a homer off Tommy Kahnle and went on to win it on an 11th-inning home run from Austin Meadows.

Sarah Langs is a reporter/editor for MLB.com based in New York. Follow her on Twitter @SlangsOnSports.