Tanaka's 10 K's lead Yanks in twin-bill opener
Right-hander fires eight shutout innings; Beltran clubs early home run
NEW YORK -- Much of the fanfare from Masahiro Tanaka's Major League debut and first Yankee Stadium appearance had faded when the right-hander toed the rubber on Wednesday in the Bronx. It created a much calmer atmosphere, he'd say later.
If this is what Tanaka does when he feels settled in, that spells bad news for the rest of the league. Tanaka limited the Cubs to a pair of bunt singles and struck out 10 over eight scoreless innings, pitching the Yankees to a 3-0 victory on Wednesday afternoon in the first game of a day-night doubleheader.
"I feel that I was a little bit more calmer, compared to the first two," Tanaka said through an interpreter. "I'm very satisfied with how I pitched out there today."
So were the Yankees, who watched Tanaka use his trademark splitter and a sharp slider to retire 14 straight Cubs after Junior Lake's video-reviewed bunt single in the second inning.
Anthony Rizzo opened the seventh inning with a bunt against the shift for an infield hit. Those marked the only notches against Tanaka, who also walked one on a chilly 43-degree day at the Stadium and applauded into his glove after the final out of the eighth inning.
"He's pitched really well so far," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "What we've been most pleased about is the adjustments that he's made during the game. For me, that's the important thing. He keeps you in every game."
Shawn Kelley pitched the ninth inning to record his fourth save, securing a contest that saw Carlos Beltran homer for the third consecutive game. Dean Anna and Jacoby Ellsbury also drove in runs for New York.
Girardi said that he did not give any thought to allowing Tanaka to try for the complete game, given his pitch count (107) and the chilly conditions. Tanaka said that he felt the cold, but he was able to make the necessary adjustments.
"I was able to control myself, control the grip and manage myself to pitch the way I pitched today," Tanaka said.
Tanaka has racked up 28 strikeouts through his first three starts, shattering a club record held by Al Leiter, who had 25 through his first three outings in 1987, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
Tanaka also became the first Yanks starter to toss at least eight scoreless innings while striking out at least 10 batters and allowing two or fewer hits since Randy Johnson, who did it on July 26, 2005, against the Red Sox.
"It's just another way of getting outs," Tanaka said of his strikeout total. "It's nothing really special to me, but I'm just glad that I was able to get as many outs as I did."
New York produced three runs in seven innings against Chicago starter Jason Hammel, who permitted five hits and struck out five.
Beltran, the reigning American League Player of the Week, slugged a first-inning solo shot -- his team-leading fourth of the season, which provided Tanaka with some quick support.
"He can throw 95 [mph] when he wants to, he can throw the split in a 3-2 count like he did today a couple of times," Beltran said. "It's fun to have a guy like that, that's going to give you a quality start every day."
The Yankees pushed their lead to 2-0 in the fourth inning as Brian McCann singled, advanced on a walk and a hit, and then scored on Anna's bases-loaded sacrifice fly, which allowed McCann to slide home just ahead of the tag.
In the fifth, Brett Gardner reached on a sun-aided ground-rule double to open the inning, then advanced to third on a groundout. He scored when Jacoby Ellsbury tapped a ground ball back to the mound, with Girardi leaning on the rule book to allow the run to come home.
Catcher's interference was called on Cubs backstop John Baker, which would have awarded Ellsbury first base and returned Gardner to third base.
Instead, Girardi utilized Rule 6.08(c), which allows the manager to decline the interference penalty and accept the play -- in this case, a run-scoring groundout for Ellsbury, who was tagged out by Hammel.
"With zero outs, it might be a little different story," Girardi said. "With one out, I think you take the run."
Girardi said that the rule came into play once during his career -- on June 5, 1990, when Girardi's glove made contact with Bobby Bonilla's bat. Then with the Pirates, Bonilla hit a three-run homer off Paul Assenmacher on the swing.
"I was voting that they wouldn't keep it," Girardi said. "It didn't work."
The second game of the doubleheader is scheduled to begin at 7:05 p.m. ET. Right-hander Michael Pineda will start for the Yanks, with left-hander Travis Wood on the mound for the Cubs. Players from both teams will be wearing No. 42 in honor of Jackie Robinson.