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Pirates avoid Tanaka in series against Yankees

NEW YORK -- One Yankees pitcher the Pirates were not scheduled to face during their trip to New York was rookie starter Masahiro Tanaka, who has been one of the most impressive players this season. Tanaka, who is set to take the mound Tuesday against the Cubs, has a 6-0 record with a 2.17 ERA. He has struck out 66 batters in 58 innings.

"From what I've seen, he's got a nice arsenal of pitches," said Russell Martin, a former Yankees catcher. "He has some late action with his hard slider and splitter. He's pounding the strike zone and expands with quality pitches when he's ahead in the count."

Martin said he would have liked the Pirates to have faced Tanaka, just to see how they would perform against him.

"He doesn't give in," Martin said. "From what I've seen so far, he looks like an awesome competitor. I love facing guys like that. I like facing [Tigers starter Justin] Verlander. I like facing the best."

Nate Taylor is a contributor to
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