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Tanaka sizzles on frigid day as Yanks sweep Cubs in DH

AP, Kyodo

Forget the cold. The Chicago Cubs faced a much tougher challenge in Masahiro Tanaka.

The Cubs managed two bunt singles, one aided by replay, and struck out 10 times against the rookie in losing 3-0 to New York in the opener of a split doubleheader Wednesday.

Michael Pineda (2-1) followed the overpowering outing by Tanaka with one of his own, pitching six innings of four-hit ball to give the Yankees a sweep of the twinbill.

“I feel that I was a little bit more calm (at the start) compared to my first and second games,” said Tanaka.

“I’m going through an adjustment phase right now. As we get into the summer, I’m sure there will be adjustments I’ll need to make.”

Junior Lake bunted toward the third base side with one out in the second, and Tanaka fielded it cleanly. Initially, first base umpire Manny Gonzalez called Lake out but Cubs manager Rick Renteria requested a challenge and the call was overturned.

“The challenge was actually more our eyes told us he was safe. I don’t know how much a challenge it was,” Renteria said. “It was more a consensus of the eyes that he was safe.”

Chicago didn’t reach base again until Anthony Rizzo pushed a bunt toward a vacated third base with a shifted infield leading off the seventh,

The 25-year-old Tanaka (2-0), wearing three-quarter sleeves on a 6 C day that felt much colder because of a brisk wind, threw 107 pitches. Shawn Kelley allowed a single to Rizzo as he finished the three-hitter for his fourth save and Chicago’s third straight loss.

“That split is not something you want to sit on. It’s not something you’re going to be able to handle,” Renteria said. “But, as it was coming out of the hand, as the guys were coming in, they were saying, ‘Gosh, it looks like a fastball. It ends up diving.’ “

Dean Anna had a sacrifice fly and Jacoby Ellsbury added an RBI tap-out against Hammel in Chicago’s first regular-season game in the ballpark, which opened in 2009.

The Cubs have yet to win in the Bronx. They were swept in the 1932 and ’38 World Series and lost all three-games in 2005, their only interleague series in New York.

With Tuesday’s rainout postponing Jackie Robinson Day festivities, the Yankees unveiled a plaque honoring Nelson Mandela before the nightcap.

After an overnight storm, the grounds crew used blowers to melt the ice on the tarp before removing the covering from the infield. Snow still covered the grass in right field while the Cubs took batting practice, and many players wore ski caps.

But it wasn’t too cold for Carlos Beltran. He connected on a 1-1 changeup from Hammel with one out in the first. Anna started again at shortstop for Derek Jeter and drove in his run with a fly to left field in the fourth.

“Right now I feel good at the plate, and am seeing good results, said Beltran, the current AL player of the week.

Tanaka gave up six runs — five earned — in his first two starts combined, all before the third inning was over. This time he was sharp from the start. He walked his second batter this season and lowered his ERA to 2.05 ERA.

Cubs starter Jason Hammel (2-1) was nearly as good. He yielded three runs and five hits, striking out five.

Brett Gardner and Scott Sizemore had RBI singles off Travis Wood (0-2) in the nightcap, while Ichiro Suzuki went 2-for-4.

Mets call up Matsuzaka

New York AP

The New York Mets are bringing up pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka to replace John Lannan on their big league roster.

Matsuzaka’s contract was selected Wednesday from Las Vegas, and New York sent Lannan outright to the Triple-A team.

Matsuzaka was 3-3 with a 4.42 ERA in seven starts for the Mets last year and 0-0 with a 2.25 ERA in two starts for Las Vegas this year.