A dominant force in Nippon Pro Baseball, it had been over a year since Masahiro Tanaka took a loss when he came stateside. On this day in 2014, the Yankees pitcher tasted defeat once again.
The last time Masahiro Tanaka tasted defeat in Nippon Pro Baseball during the regular season, it was August 19, 2012. Although he would lose a game in the postseason, Tanaka went through the entire 2013 campaign without taking a loss. He then signed with the Yankees that offseason, ending his time in Japan on quite the impressive run.
Those good times continued in the Bronx. Tanaka was stellar in his first eight outings, starting off the season 6-0 with a 2.17 ERA and a 0.914 WHiP, striking out 66 batters in 58 innings. His command was exquisite, as he issued just seven walks in that time. Given his incredible streak to end his Japanese career, it appeared as though he would just keep winning.
Unfortunately, his streak came to an end on this day in 2014. In his ninth start in the US, and after 42 consecutive regular season starts without a loss, Tanaka was defeated by the Chicago Cubs. The Yankees could only muster a single run in the 6-1 loss, failing to provide their star import with any run support.
Tanaka pitched relatively well, although it was his worst start of the season. In his six innings, he allowed four runs, three earned, on eight hits and a walk. Tanaka did strike out seven batters, but was essentially done in by a two run sixth inning, where a pair of singles, an error, and two sacrifice flies put the game out of reach.
He bounced back quite well from that defeat. In fact, Tanaka won his next five starts before losing again on June 22. After a complete game loss in his following start, Tanaka struggled to begin July, before being shelved with elbow discomfort, all but ending his rookie campaign. He did return to make two more starts to end the season, but was not the same pitcher as he was earlier in the year.