Masahiro Tanaka was brilliant for the Yankees in Game 1 of the ALCS against the Houston Astros, putting his team in position to take a 1-0 lead in the series with a win on the road.
The right-hander threw six near perfect innings for New York, allowing just one hit and one walk with four strikeout on 68 pitches.
"Going into the game with a plan," Tanaka said through a translator, on why he was so effective Saturday night. "...really focusing on each pitch, executing your pitches, that's kind of what it all comes down to."
On the offensive side of the ball during Tanaka's time on the mound, the Yankees managed to go up 3-0 through six innings and tacked on two more runs in the top of the seventh, before Adam Ottavino came in to relieve Tanaka.
"He was getting tired," Aaron Boone said after the game when asked about his decision to take Tanaka out of the game. "The ball was slipping out a little bit there in that last inning, so I was considering sending him back out, but we then decided against it."
Tanaka has been an absolute stud for the Yankees through seven games in his postseason career, ending his start with a 1.32 ERA in the playoffs. He now sits at No. 3 on the Yankees' postseason ERA list behind Mariano Rivera (0.70) and Monte Pearson (1.01).
"Obviously the number is there and I guess I'm very flattered, but the happiest thing for me is obviously to get the W," Tanaka said. "Knowing that you went out there, and you gave everything you had, that's the feeling that you are looking for. So that's kind of where I'm at with that."
In 41 innings pitched, Tanaka has allowed just six earned runs, while striking out 36 batters in the process.
"I think he does a good job, clearly, of not necessarily making more of the moment. But really the guys that can lock in and are in command of their bodies and their mechanics, have a chance to be better when the stakes are high. And he's very good at that," Boone said.
Tanaka also now sits at No. 3 on the MLB's postseason ERA list--through seven starts--behind Sandy Koufax (0.95) and Christy Mathewson (1.06). So you could say it's been quite the career come playoff time for this postseason ace.
"He's very good at his craft and understanding what makes him work, and what makes him effective, and the ability to repeat his delivery and really command a few pitches today was really big."