Tanaka is known for being an exceptional pitcher in the postseason, currently sporting the 3rd-lowest postseason ERA in MLB history at 1. Tanaka was the Eagles' first-round pick in the NPB amateur player draft. From to , he won 26 consecutive decisions , which set a new NPB record. He began playing baseball in the first grade as a catcher for the Koyanosato Tigers a Little League team alongside current Yomiuri Giants shortstop Hayato Sakamoto , who was then the team's ace pitcher and Tanaka's batterymate.
Armed with a fastball that sat in highs and a hard slider , he led his team all the way to a championship in the 87th National High School Baseball tournament held at Koshien Stadium in the summer of his second year eleventh grade. Now given the uniform number 1 and officially appointed the team's ace pitcher, [ citation needed ] Tanaka led Tomakomai High to a regional title as well as a championship in the Meiji Jingu Tournament that fall , hitting home runs in four straight games in the latter himself. While his team was viewed as the favorite [ by whom?
Tanaka managed to lead them to their third consecutive appearance in the tournament finals  despite being ill prior to the tournament. Tanaka held Waseda Jitsugyo to just one run and struck out 10, but the opponent's ace, Yuki Saito , held Tomakomai High to one run himself on seven hits. The game remained tied 1—1 after 15 innings , forcing a rematch as per tournament regulations. Tanaka was the last batter, striking out to end the game. The pitchers' duel between Tanaka and Saito in the finals and the rematch that followed became on the most defining moments in all of sports in Japan that year.
Tanaka struck out batters over the course of his high school career — , surpassing Daisuke Matsuzaka 's previous national high school record of with Yokohama Senior High School. He also hit 13 home runs during those three years.
After rival Yuki Saito announced that he would not be declaring for the upcoming draft, opting to go on to Waseda University instead, Tanaka became the single most highly touted high school player eligible to be picked. He was also given the uniform number 18, which typically denotes a team's staff ace in Japanese professional baseball. Though he was not charged with a loss , as the Eagles made a furious comeback to tie the game up in the fourth, he was seen sitting in the dugout in tears after being taken out of the game.
On April 18, in a home game against the Hawks, he held the team to two runs and struck out 13 in a complete game win ,  the first win of his professional career. He became the first pitcher since Yu Darvish to throw a complete game shutout as a rookie out of high school on June 13 in an interleague game against the Chunichi Dragons. Tanaka finished the year with an 11—7 record and a 3. He was named the Pacific League Most Valuable Rookie , the first player out of high school to win the award since Matsuzaka.
In , Tanaka was penciled into the front end of the Eagles' starting rotation for the second straight season. He came on in relief for the first time in his career in an interleague game against the Hiroshima Carp on June 22, recording his first career save. Tanaka was able to make only 24 starts as opposed to 28 in his rookie season , missing playing time because of both a brief rehab stint in the minors due to inflammation in his shoulder  and his participation in the Beijing Olympics as a member of the Japanese national team.
He entered the last game of the regular season against the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks with nine wins, looking to both earn his tenth win of the season and prevent the Eagles from finishing in last place. While he held the Hawks to no runs over nine innings, Hawks starter Toshiya Sugiuchi equaled his performance and Tanaka fell short of his goal of reaching double-digit wins. The Eagles eventually won in walk-off fashion in the twelfth inning, finishing one game ahead of the Hawks for fifth place in the regular season standings.
Tanaka got off to an utterly dominant start to the season, pitching a four-hit complete game shutout against the Hawks in his first start on April 7,  a one-run complete game win against the Chiba Lotte Marines on April 14  his first career win against the Marines, the only other Pacific League team he had yet to record a win against , a three-hit complete game shutout against the Marines on April 22,  and an strikeout, one-run complete game win against the Fighters on April The fourth win marked the th of Eagles manager Katsuya Nomura 's career  and made Tanaka the first pitcher to start the season with four consecutive complete game wins since Satoru Komiyama then with the Marines and Shigetoshi Hasegawa Orix BlueWave both accomplished the feat in However, though he went 4—0 with a 0.
He returned to the team on May 13, pitching seven innings of three run-ball against the Fighters for his fifth straight win to start the season. On September 13, , Tanaka set a new NPB record with his 21st consecutive win in the season in a 6—2 complete game victory over the Orix Buffaloes at home in Sendai at Kleenex Stadium.
This victory was Tanaka's 25th consecutive win, including his final four starts in It also eclipsed the longest consecutive winning streak for MLB pitchers, set at 24 by Carl Hubbell in the and seasons. With a one run lead, he sealed the victory and the Eagles' first Pacific League title. He ended the regular season with a 24—0 record and 1. He also became the second post-war starting pitcher with an undefeated season with minimum innings required for an ERA title since Shigekuni Mashiba.
The lone loss came in Game 6 of the Japan Series , a pitch complete game, and he avenged that loss as he picked up the save in the decisive Game 7. Tanaka was repeatedly scouted by MLB representatives during the season. On December 26, , all 30 MLB teams were notified that the day period to sign the year-old right-hander began at 8 a. Clubs had until 5 p. The contract contained an opt-out clause after the fourth year and a full no- trade clause.
Tanaka would receive his first MLB win in the game, pitching seven innings with eight strikeouts in the Yankees 7—3 win against the Blue Jays. Tanaka made his first Yankees home start on April 9, against the Baltimore Orioles where he struck out ten batters in seven innings but received a no-decision as the Yankees lost the game 4—5.
Tanaka began his American career with a 6—0 record before he received his first loss in the MLB on May 20, as the Yankees lost to the Chicago Cubs 6—1; it was his first loss in any professional baseball league since August 19, Tanaka began the year with an 11—1 record and a 1. The next day, Tanaka was placed on the disabled list due to right elbow inflammation. Tanaka returned on September 21 against the Blue Jays, receiving his 13th win of the season in the Yankees' 5—2 victory over the Blue Jays.
After his season, there was much speculation by sports media and fans that Tanaka should have undergone surgery rather than follow his doctors' suggestions and rehab the injury. This was mostly due to the belief that he would need to get the surgery despite the rehab program. On April 28, Tanaka was placed on the disabled list with forearm and wrist soreness; he had gone 2—1 with a 3. The injury combined with his poor first outing led many in the sports media to speculate that Tanaka should undergo Tommy John surgery against the wishes of his doctors.
Tanaka was diagnosed with a Grade 1 hamstring strain on September 20, sustaining the injury during an interleague game against the New York Mets when running to first base after a bunt attempt.
He would miss his next start. Tanaka's season ended with a 3—0 loss to the Houston Astros in the American League Wild Card game , in which he pitched five innings and allowed two earned runs.
One area of struggle for Tanaka in was the home run: he gave up 25 of them. Tanaka was named the Yankees' Opening Day starter in for the second consecutive season. Tanaka earned the win, allowing two earned runs in seven innings and striking out six, while Iwakuma took the loss.
Tanaka faced Iwakuma again on August 24, throwing seven shutout innings as Tanaka received the win and Iwakuma received the loss again in their second meeting. In , Tanaka made a career-high 31 starts and avoided a disabled list stint for the first time in his MLB career. Tanaka set career-highs in innings pitched, wins, strikeouts and WAR Wins Above Replacement he finished the year with 5. Tanaka was scheduled to start in Game 2 of the May 14 doubleheader against the Houston Astros , notable for being the same game in which Derek Jeter would have his number retired in a pregame ceremony.
Baseball analysts attempted to uncover the root cause of Tanaka's sudden struggles, which were surprising given his excellent and his reputation as the Yankees' ace since Some raised concerns that he was playing injured and needed Tommy John surgery; however, the Yankees and Tanaka himself insisted that Tanaka was at full health.
Against the Rays on July 28, Tanaka set a new career-high by striking out 14 batters. Tanaka took a perfect game into the sixth inning and allowed only one run on two hits in eight innings pitched. On August 27, Tanaka earned his tenth win of the season against the Seattle Mariners, making him the first Japanese pitcher in MLB history to have double-digit wins in all of his first four seasons.
In the postseason, Tanaka earned the win in Game 3 of the American League Division Series against the Indians after throwing seven shutout innings.
The next day, on June 9, Tanaka wound up on the day disabled list due to mild strains in both hamstrings. In a short time after his return from the DL, he pitched a complete game shutout in a 4—0 win over the Rays.
This was Tanaka's first opening day victory. It was the first time in his career that he could not complete an inning while starting, but nevertheless, the Yankees won July 25 against the Red Sox turned out to be Tanaka's worst outing in professional baseball, as he allowed 7 runs in the first inning and 5 more in the third inning, bringing his total to 12 runs, the most he allowed in a single start, while only retiring 10 hitters 4 strikeouts. It was also the most earned runs allowed by a Yankees pitcher since Tanaka allowed one run over five innings in the ALDS.
Tanaka was the only player to be chosen to the national team to play in the Beijing Olympics from the Eagles, becoming the youngest Japanese baseball player to play in the Olympics as a pro in the history of the event.
He pitched in relief in Japan's first game against Cuba in the group stage , throwing one scoreless inning and striking out three. While Tanaka saw limited playing time as a middle reliever for the team, he recorded a 0. He also played for Japan in the World Baseball Classic , coming on in relief for Satoshi Komatsu midway through the sixth inning of the seeding match against South Korea in the second round but surrendering a home run to Lee Bum-Ho Japan won 6—2.
He pitched in the semi-finals against the United States, giving up a triple to Jimmy Rollins but striking out David Wright to end the inning, contributing to Japan's second consecutive championship in the tournament. Tanaka was highly expected to be the staff ace of Team Japan in the WBC , but poor form in the build-up to the tournament led to concern over his performance.
He came on as a reliever against Cuba and again conceded a run, before appearing to return to his usual form by striking out 6 batters in 2 innings. Tanaka again came on as a reliever against Chinese Taipei and had 2 good innings, shutting out the side with 4 strike outs, before conceding the equalizer in his third inning at the bottom of the 8th. Up to that point, Tanaka's inconsistency produced an ERA of 3. Tanaka is a right-handed pitcher who throws from a high three-quarter arm slot in a drop-and-drive motion. Tanaka has stated that he is an avid fan of Momoiro Clover Z , a popular female idol group in Japan.
He has used the group's songs as his "warm-up song" music that is played at a baseball game when a pitcher appears on the field and does his warm-up routine. This song was specially made for Tanaka and unveiled when he debuted at Yankee Stadium, before it was released in Japan. Tanaka is married to Mai Satoda , former member and former supervisor of the idol group Country Musume and television personality.
The wedding ceremony was held in Hawaii in December Satoda is also a fan of Momoiro Clover Z. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
For the former Hanshin Tigers fielder, see Masahiro Tanaka baseball, born Japanese baseball player. Tanaka with the New York Yankees in Baseball portal. NY Daily News. Retrieved July 4, The Japan Times.