Tanaka has rough outing in Jeter's penultimate game
Righty lasts just 1 2/3, while Yankees captain goes 1-for-2 as DH
BOSTON -- Masahiro Tanaka's next step is to head home to Japan, where he is looking forward to a relatively normal offseason. The idea was that one more start would boost his confidence heading into the winter, but the Yankees are still optimistic that he will be ready to pitch at the top of the rotation next spring.
Tanaka's command was erratic in his shortest start of the season, recording just five outs to wrap up an impressive but injury-interrupted rookie campaign as the Yankees were thumped by the Red Sox, 10-4, on Saturday afternoon at Fenway Park.
"My goal coming in this season was to stay healthy and keep a spot in the rotation," Tanaka said through an interpreter. "So obviously I wasn't able to do that. I was only able to do half a job, so with that said, I think I'm a little bit disappointed how the season was."
Playing in the penultimate game of his career, Derek Jeter went 1-for-2 with an infield single -- his 3,464th hit -- as New York's designated hitter, receiving standing ovations before both at-bats before leaving for a pinch-hitter in the fifth inning.
According to manager Joe Girardi, Jeter had told him that he wanted to make two plate appearances and then exit the game. Jeter appeared to slightly tweak a hamstring while legging out the infield hit, but Jeter confirmed that he plans to play the final game of his Major League career Sunday afternoon.
"I'm playing here because I have respect for this rivalry, for Boston, and the fans," Jeter said. "If it was anywhere else, I don't know if I'd play."
An American League All-Star who started his season 12-4 with a 2.51 ERA before being injured in a July 8 start at Cleveland, Tanaka spent 10 weeks rehabbing a partial tear of his right ulnar collateral ligament, fighting the odds to come off the disabled list for two September starts.
He threw 5 1/3 encouraging innings vs. Toronto on Sept. 21 at Yankee Stadium, picking up his 13th victory, but did not show that same effectiveness Saturday. Tanaka allowed seven hits and seven runs (five earned) while throwing just 25 of his 50 pitches for strikes.
"[My] body and the arm is feeling fine," Tanaka said. "Obviously I wasn't as sharp as I wanted to be today, but arm and body is fine."
"He struggled with some command today a little bit and wasn't real sharp with his fastball for whatever reason," Girardi said. "We asked him, 'Do you feel good?' and he said, 'Yeah, I feel good.' He got in some bad counts and they hurt him."
Yoenis Cespedes knocked a run-scoring single off Tanaka in the first before Boston sent 14 men to the plate in an eight-run second inning, prolonged by two errors -- one by first baseman Chase Headley and another by center fielder Eury Perez.
All of Boston's damage in the inning came with two outs, as Tanaka permitted five straight batters to reach base before Cespedes' second RBI single knocked him out.
"There was no [physical] problems," Girardi said. "He had just thrown a lot of pitches in those first two innings and I just though it's not smart to send him back out or leave him out there, so I just made a change."
Preston Claiborne relieved and Perez badly misplayed Allen Craig's fly ball to center field as the next five Boston batters also reached.
Tanaka finished the year 13-5 with a 2.77 ERA in 20 starts, striking out 141 and walking 21 in 136 1/3 innings. Girardi said that his ability to return from injury calmed many of the lingering fears about Tanaka eventually requiring elbow surgery.
"I think we feel pretty good about where he's at going into Spring Training," Girardi said. "As I said, there's healthy guys that have problems. Sometimes it rears its ugly head. The fact that he got through these two starts and didn't have any issues, I feel pretty good."
Wrapping up his season for Boston after being acquired July 31 from the Cardinals, Joe Kelly held the Yankees in check for the first seven innings before running into trouble in the eighth.
Jose Pirela legged out a seventh-inning triple and scored on a Brendan Ryan sac fly to break up the shutout. Chris Young knocked a run-scoring single through the left side of the infield in the eighth that chased Kelly, and Stephen Drew greeted Tommy Layne with a two-run double as Kelly was charged with four runs.
"I want to throw a complete game really, really bad," Kelly said. "I've never had one in my career. It's something that makes me frustrated at myself and I let it get away."
The loss confirmed that the Yankees will finish the season with either 83 or 84 victories, marking the first time they will have declining wins totals in three straight seasons since 1986-90.
"We need to be better. We need to execute better next year," Girardi said.