Tanaka off to strong start

Published on NewsOK Modified: April 21, 2014 at 7:31 pm •  Published: April 21, 2014

BOSTON — Nothing has fazed Masahiro Tanaka to this point in his rookie season in the majors and Joe Girardi doesn’t see that changing Tuesday night when the righthander faces the Red Sox for the first time.

“Everything so far, he’s handled pretty well,” Girardi said. “There hasn’t been anything that’s said he’s going to be any more anxious for this start than any other start. I expect him to have the same personality.”

The 25-year-old Tanaka comes into the game 2-0 with a 2.05 ERA in three starts, striking out 28 in 22 innings, while walking just two.

Lefty Jon Lester (2-2, 2.17) starts for the Red Sox.

Michael Pineda goes Wednesday night against John Lackey and CC Sabathia battles Felix Doubront on Thursday.

Tanaka is coming off a start against the Cubs on Wednesday in which he struck out 10 and walked one in eight scoreless innings in a 3-0 victory.

But facing the Red Sox, with all that the rivalry involves, is a new test, one in which from afar Tanaka said he is familiar.

“Through the television monitor in Japan, I’ve seen the two teams play and I understand there’s a rivalry between the two teams,” Tanaka said through his interpreter. “Going into the games, I’m sure that the fans will be heated up a bit. Should be a good experience for me and I’m very much looking forward to it.”

As for pitching at Fenway and its many quirks, particularly the imposing Green Monster in left, Tanaka shrugged.

“I understand that if you give up fly balls, it might be dangerous,” he said. “So I think the best thing to do is try to get as many ground ball outs as possible.”

Girardi believes Tanaka is prepared for the amped-up atmosphere of a Yankees-Red Sox series.

“He’s probably as well as he could be prepared,” Girardi said. “He’s throwing the ball well. I’m sure he’s looking forward to it. I’m sure there’s curiosity, a lot of things that probably go through his mind.”

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