Newspaper article International New York Times

Tanaka, the 'Real Deal,' Takes Wins in Stride

Newspaper article International New York Times

Tanaka, the 'Real Deal,' Takes Wins in Stride

Article excerpt

One of only two pitchers in the majors with 10 victories, Masahiro Tanaka is neither impressed nor surprised at his early- season success.

Masahiro Tanaka is neither impressed nor surprised that a little more than two months into his first major league season, he is one of only two pitchers with 10 victories.

After all, that is the point. He plays the game to win, which was why the Yankees signed him to a seven-year, $155 million contract in the off-season.

Winning may not be the only thing, but it's what he does best. In his final season with the Rakuten Eagles in Japan a year ago, he had a 24-0 record. In 13 starts for the Yankees, Tanaka is 10-1.

Still, after his complete-game 4-2 victory over the Seattle Mariners Wednesday night, Tanaka told members of the Japanese news media that he would not describe himself as successful. His argument was that he had signed a seven-year contract and was two months into it. Tanaka said he couldn't make an assessment of his start. "All I'm trying to do is just go out there and do the best I can every night I'm allowed to go out there," he said through an interpreter after the game.

That does not stop other players from offering their assessments. First baseman Mark Teixeira said after the game that if Tanaka continues along this path, "he's going to have one of the greatest first years in baseball for any pitcher who ever played this game."

Mariners catcher Mike Zunino, who had a double and struck out twice against Tanaka, said: "He's the real deal. All his pitches, he commanded. He's got the stuff. 24-0 and 10-1. Those type of numbers don't just happen."

Over his last 40 combined starts in two countries, Tanaka is 34- 1 with a 1.50 earned run average, with 46 walks and 286 strikeouts.

There are questions about whether he can continue his torrid pace. He is new to the major leagues, and hitters don't know him yet. He has faced only one team twice -- the Cubs, who gave him his only defeat, 6-1, the second time around. …

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