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Masahiro Tanaka lost last night for the first time in 639 days

May 21, 2014, 10:15 AM EDT

Masahiro Tanaka Getty Images

Yankees right-hander Masahiro Tanaka took the loss last night against the Cubs, falling to 6-1 in his tremendously impressive rookie season, but here’s a much more startling factoid: It was his first regular season loss since way back in August of 2012, when he was pitching for the Rakuten Golden Eagles in Japan.

In between losses Tanaka made 42 starts for the Golden Eagles and Yankees, going 34-0 over the span of 639 days.

I’m the first person to say that wins and losses are often misleading for pitchers and are far from the best way to evaluate their performance. After all, Tanaka actually pitched reasonably well last night in allowing four runs (three earned) in six innings to take the “loss” in a situation where he could have easily gotten a no-decision or even a win with decent run support.

But still: 42 starts and 34-0 is a helluva streak. And to snap it against the Cubs of all teams!

  1. cmoney4949 - May 21, 2014 at 10:22 AM

    It was his first loss in 9 starts this year. Who cares what he did in Japan, that isn’t the majors. It was also 84 degrees so as the weather heats up so will his ERA and loss total.

    • renaado - May 21, 2014 at 10:27 AM

      What’s impressive though was his 2013 season back there, considerin how juiced the Baseball’s were durin that time.

      • gothapotamus90210 - May 21, 2014 at 11:10 AM

        All pitchers in his league had to face that juiced ball, not just him.

      • renaado - May 21, 2014 at 11:50 AM

        True, yet he’s the only starter there with highest winning percentage and the lowest era in that league.

        Here’s a list for the Pacific league:

        http://bis.npb.or.jp/eng/2013/stats/pit_p.html

        And Central league:

        http://bis.npb.or.jp/eng/2013/stats/pit_c.html

      • renaado - May 21, 2014 at 12:05 PM

        WTC!!?? I just noticed how in the heck did he got a save there?? If this came from the game 7 of the Japan series last year I’d be facepalming myself, I don’t remember sein him gettin a save in the Rakutenofficial videos a while back last year. Clearly this is a mistake, I’d better ask yakyubaka admin about this one.

    • ptfu - May 21, 2014 at 11:20 AM

      Why would warming weather influence Tanaka’s loss total? The opposing team also has to pitch in the heat.

      • 18thstreet - May 21, 2014 at 1:31 PM

        #Benghazi

      • jimeejohnson - May 21, 2014 at 9:41 PM

        That dick, Cheney!

    • jwbiii - May 21, 2014 at 7:10 PM

      Sendai, where Rakuten plays its home games, has average summer highs of about 80F with 80% humidity. About the same as New York. A little more humid.

      • renaado - May 21, 2014 at 10:47 PM

        Exactly, not to mention the design and dimensions of the stadium there is pretty different if you compare it from other rural Baseball stadiums in Japan. Ball trajectory if bein hit in the air has a high chance of water density combined to it, resulting in fewer homerun balls bein hit there at Miyagi stadium.

  2. renaado - May 21, 2014 at 10:24 AM

    Safe to say this Chicago Cubs team is a definite household name now in Japan for years to come.

    /Tips cap.

  3. lukedunphysscienceproject - May 21, 2014 at 10:48 AM

    Actually a double win for the cubs. Not only do they get a small measure of revenge on Tanaka, who snubbed them in the offseason, but they get a nice little showcase game out of Jason Hammel, who I’m sure they wouldn’t mind flipping to the Yankees or some other pitching needy team for a prospect or two in the near future.

    • Bar None - May 21, 2014 at 12:40 PM

      I think the Yankees and Rangers are both out for Hammel. Their minors are pretty light.

  4. gothapotamus90210 - May 21, 2014 at 11:08 AM

    And only 46 of those days came in between his first MLB start and last night.

    There is no need to try and trump up accomplishments that simply aren’t there (i.e. Ichiro’s total professional hits, Jim Kelly/Warren Moon/Doug Flutie’s total professional passing yards, Herschel Walker’s total professional rushing yards). If the statistic includes time spent in a lesser league, it’s not worth sh-t.

    • gothapotamus90210 - May 21, 2014 at 11:31 AM

      But I understand the need to trump up Tanaka’s past. If media outlets don’t put his accomplishments in Japan on par with MLB accomplishments, they are at risk of alienating a large demographic.

      Alienation = lower viewership / website traffic = lower advertising revenue.

    • nbjays - May 21, 2014 at 12:27 PM

      When the NFL starts playing football on a 110-yard field with one less down… then you can talk about a lesser league. Less popular in America does not equate with lesser.

      • gothapotamus90210 - May 21, 2014 at 12:40 PM

        you just made my argument for me. bigger field (length, width and end zones) plus fewer downs equates to a game geared more towards passing. the CFL also allows forward motion before the snap, which helps the passing game. the constraints of the game are one part of why Flutie’s yards don’t mean sh-t in comparison to the NFL. the other part, which weighs more heavily, is the competition is second rate. “canadian” football is less popular in America because it’s not the highest level of competition.

    • 18thstreet - May 21, 2014 at 1:33 PM

      Yes! It’s pretty clear that the four players you mentioned — absolutely nobodies — had success in other leagues that in no way predicted their success in American sports leagues.

      I mean, who ever heard of this Warren Moon character? Frankly, it sounds made up.

  5. larrymahnken - May 21, 2014 at 11:21 AM

    He *did* lose in the Japan Series last year, though.

    • gothapotamus90210 - May 21, 2014 at 11:23 AM

      Of course that doesn’t count … but all of his other time pitching in Japan does.

    • renaado - May 21, 2014 at 11:38 AM

      It’s the regular season dude, playoff games doesn’t count.

    • dcarroll73 - May 21, 2014 at 11:45 AM

      You do know that after losing that game in the Japan Series he came back in the next game in relief to win the deciding game? But I suppose that dosn’t count either?

  6. esracerx46 - May 21, 2014 at 11:21 AM

    Against the Cubs of all teams.

    • mazblast - May 21, 2014 at 1:41 PM

      As my father used to say, “DiMaggio’s streak ended against two very ordinary Cleveland pitchers, not against anyone’s ace. You just never know.”

  7. rbj1 - May 21, 2014 at 11:35 AM

    I’m blaming the rain.

  8. mc1439 - May 21, 2014 at 12:54 PM

    Send him back to AAA!

  9. yourcubreporter - May 21, 2014 at 1:09 PM

    あなたが青でよく見えると思います

    Tweeted that to Tanaka’s account today. Translates to “You’d look better in blue! ”

    Big win for the Cubbies!

  10. yourcubreporter - May 21, 2014 at 1:10 PM

    Thank you, Google Translate!

  11. ironcurtin64 - May 21, 2014 at 3:03 PM

    As amazing as his 2013 season was in Japan, his 2011 season was even better across the board (with exception of W/L).

  12. 1harrypairatesties - May 21, 2014 at 3:58 PM

    Cubs pounded him all game.

  13. miguelcairo - May 21, 2014 at 4:49 PM

    Hard to call three earned over six innings of work a “pounding.”

  14. mikhelb - May 21, 2014 at 5:29 PM

    42 straight starts without a loss? Pfffft overrated!!

    Seriously: He has not looked very sharp overall in 3 of his past 4 outings, the only shinning starts of this season are vs the Cubs and the Mets, but those seem more like outliers. Against the Cubbies yesterday again he showed he is prone to abuse using his average fastball and once he notices his catcher can not handle the splitter he also relies heavily in that fastball. Yesterday with the rain he could not get a good grip, McCann is very bad at blocking balls in the dirt (though way way better than R. Martin), so, he decided not to use his best pitches (in the postgame he said he knew he used too many comfortable pitches which were obviously were hit very hard).

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