NEW YORK – Masahiro Tanaka throws a splitter that drops out of sight, ranks among the major league leaders in many prized pitching categories and appears, so far, to be worth every penny the New York Yankees paid to sign him.
His place in those pinstripes?
Tanaka seems to have a different take than most everyone else.
“No, I don’t feel that I’m the ace,” he said Saturday through a translator.
Tanaka shut down Joe Mauer and the other Minnesota hitters while lowering his AL-best ERA to 2.06, and Brian McCann lined a go-ahead double in the eighth inning Saturday that sent the Yankees over the Twins 3-1.
Tanaka (8-1) permitted only an unearned run in eight innings. The heralded rookie gave up four singles, just two leaving the infield.
Tanaka struck out nine, giving him 88 in 78⅔ innings. The 25-year-old righty is fanning more batters in the big leagues than he did back home before getting a $155 million, seven-year contract from the Yankees.
“It’s probably the guys here haven’t seen me,” he said.
Tanaka walked two and bounced two wild pitches. But he was especially sharp against Mauer, the three-time AL batting champion.
Mauer, who faced Tanaka in spring training, struck out on three pitches in the first inning with a runner on third. Mauer fanned on four pitches with runners on second and third in the third, then tapped into a double play and later grounded out.
“Guys said the ball was just disappearing,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. “His splitter is unbelievable, he’s got all the pitches.
“And we also saw that he’s very competitive. A few times you could see him yelling at himself, he’s very competitive,” he added.
Orioles 4, Astros 1
In Houston, Nelson Cruz hit his major league-leading 20th home run and drove in three runs to back a solid start by Chris Tillman, as the Orioles snapped a four-game skid with a win over the Astros.
Blue Jays 12, Royals 2
In Toronto, Juan Francisco had three hits and four RBIs and Marcus Stroman won his first career start as the Blue Jays used a seven-run first inning to rout the Royals.
Norichika Aoki was hitless in four at-bats for Kansas City.
Mariners 3, Tigers 2
In Seattle, Willie Bloomquist delivered a pair of two-out RBI singles for the Mariners.
Athletics 11, Angels 3
In Oakland, Yoenis Cespedes finished a single shy of the cycle and threw out two runners at the plate, powering the Athletics past the Angels.
Indians 7, Rockies 6
In Cleveland, Mike Aviles hit a three-run homer in the second and added the go-ahead single in the eighth inning.
Padres 4, White Sox 2
In Chicago, Will Venable had a season-high four hits and drove in two runs to help the Padres beat the White Sox.
Red Sox 7, Rays 1
In Boston, Rubby De La Rosa pitched seven shutout innings in his first big league start in nearly three years and Brock Holt hit his first career homer as the Red Sox won their sixth straight game with a victory over the Rays.
Nationals 10, Rangers 2
In Washington, Anthony Rendon went 4-for-5 and hit one of four Nationals home runs, and Doug Fister allowed four hits in six innings.
Mets 5, Phillies 4 (14)
In Philadelphia, David Wright had an RBI single with two outs in the 14th inning, leading the Mets to a victory over the Phillies in the second straight marathon game between the teams.
Braves 9, Marlins 5
In Miami, Jason Heyward and Freddie Freeman each drove in a pair of runs.
Cubs 8, Brewers 0
In Milwaukee, Anthony Rizzo hit two two-run homers and Jason Hammel tossed seven strong innings.
Cardinals 2, Giants 0
In St. Louis, Michael Wacha worked six innings of three-hit ball in his fifth rain-delayed start of the season and Oscar Taveras homered in his second career at-bat for the Cardinals.
Dodgers 12, Pirates 2
In Los Angeles, Hanley Ramirez homered twice, drove in five runs and scored four times, tying career highs in all three categories.
Reds 5, Diamondbacks 0
In Phoenix, Johnny Cueto pitched effectively into the eighth inning and the Reds gave him some rare run support.