CHICAGO -- Following his first regular-season loss since August 2012, Masahiro Tanaka had to feel different going into his start Sunday, right?
While he would not admit to being angry after his first loss Tuesday at Wrigley Field, he did say he was disappointed. So for the first time after 42 straight regular-season outings without a loss, dating back to his time in Japan, Tanaka entered trying to start a winning streak instead of continue one.
As it turns out, Tanaka is just as good following a loss as he has been after wins.
Sunday at U.S. Cellular Field, he finished by going 6⅔ innings, allowing just one run (earned) on five hits (the first came in the fourth) with six strikeouts and two walks in the Yankees' 7-1 victory.
Besides all the things Tanaka can do with a ball on the mound -- and don't be mistaken, that is most vital to his success -- he continues to be totally unaffected by circumstances.
"Nothing different," Tanaka said when asked about how he felt during the four days in Chicago between starts from the North to the South Side.
Tanaka is long past being considered the possible “No. 3 starter.” Instead, he is the Yankees' security blanket -- seemingly just like Derek Jeter for so many years, he is the guy the team can count on nearly every time he is on the field.
The Yankees are a different team with Tanaka on the mound. They are 8-2 with him starting and 18-21 when the mortals go out there.
Tanaka is also the king of adjustments -- in-game, between games, whenever. For instance, he allowed seven homers in his first six starts. In his past four, he has given up none.
"People will make adjustments to him, but, as we know, he has learned how to make adjustments himself," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said.
At 7-1 with a 2.29 ERA, Tanaka continues to adjust better.
Notes: Brian Roberts was hit by a pitch in the upper part of his back in the sixth. In the eighth, he added an insurance home run. Still, Girardi said he would check with Roberts to see if he could play on Monday in St. Louis. Roberts missed Saturday's game after fouling a ball off his knee.