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Tanaka to start AL Wild Card Game for Yanks

Right-hander set to face Astros at Yankee Stadium

BALTIMORE -- Masahiro Tanaka will start Tuesday's American League Wild Card Game presented by Budweiser (8 p.m. ET on ESPN) for the Yankees against the Astros at Yankee Stadium, manager Joe Girardi said on Sunday.

"He's pitching," Girardi said simply while sitting in the dugout prior to the Yankees' 9-4 loss in the final game of the regular season against the Orioles at Camden Yards. "That was the guy we were planning on pitching in that one-game playoff, but we wanted to see how he was, and we wanted to get him as healthy as possible before we pitched him again."

Due to the Astros' loss on Sunday, the Yanks will host the AL Wild Card Game on Tuesday. Dallas Keuchel will pitch on three days' rest for Houston. The winners will face the defending AL champion Royals in a best-of-five AL Division Series, beginning in Kansas City on Thursday.

:: AL Wild Card Game: Astros vs. Yankees -- Tune-in info ::

Tanaka most recently pitched on Wednesday night in New York against the Red Sox. He worked five innings and allowed four runs on five hits, including Travis Shaw's first-inning three-run homer in a 9-5 loss.

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That has been Tanaka's only start since suffering a Grade 1 right hamstring strain on Sept. 18 while running out of the batter's box on a bunt attempt in a loss to the Mets at Citi Field.

"Obviously, I know how important the game is," Tanaka said. "I just want to go out there and do my best, be able to contribute to the team's win so we can advance to the next round."

Video: NYY@BAL: Yankees talk AL Wild Card game vs. Astros

The Japanese right-hander also had a right forearm flexor tendon issue that forced him out from April 24-June 2. Last year, Tanaka missed three months while rehabilitating a partial ligament tear in that same elbow.

Tanaka has faced the Astros once since signing a seven-year, $155 million contract with the Yankees prior to the 2014 season. That was June 27 at Houston, and he allowed six runs on seven hits in five innings but wasn't part of the decision in what turned out to be a 9-6 Yankees win.

Video: Yankees are ready for tough AL Wild Card Game matchup

Tanaka threw a bullpen session on Saturday as the Yankees lost both ends of a split doubleheader to the Orioles, and Girardi proclaimed that the strain in the hamstring had dissipated enough for Tanaka to pitch on Tuesday.

"I felt good about it after the game the other day, because he came out healthy," Girardi said about the right-hander, who is 12-7 with a 3.51 ERA in 24 starts. "And now he's on a normal schedule. He did his bullpen [Saturday]. He's ready to go."

Barry M. Bloom is a national reporter for and writes an MLBlog, Boomskie on Baseball. Follow @boomskie on Twitter.
Read More: New York Yankees, Masahiro Tanaka