Masahiro Tanaka’s record unbeaten streak finally came to an end on Saturday, as the Rakuten Golden Eagles lost 4-2 to the Yomiuri Giants in Game 6 of the Japan Series.
Tanaka went 30 starts between losses dating back to last August, setting a professional record. The 25-year-old right-hander finished the regular season at 24-0 with a 1.27 ERA and 183/32 K/BB ratio over 212 innings and he remained undefeated in the postseason until he gave up four runs on 12 hits and one walk in today’s complete-game loss.
The Eagles are expected to make Tanaka available via the posting process once the Japan Series is over, with bidding likely to exceed the $51.7 million fee the Rangers paid in order to secure exclusive negotiating rights with Yu Darvish two offseasons ago. David Waldstein of the New York Times notes that Tanaka threw 160 pitches in today’s outing, which is something MLB teams won’t be thrilled to hear about.
Royals’ Opening Day starter Danny Duffy weathered a minor scare during Saturday’s Cactus League game against the Diamondbacks. The left-hander was removed from his final spring training start after experiencing some left shoulder tightness in the second and third innings. No lasting damage appears to have been done — Duffy told reporters that he simply felt a slight ache, nothing more — and it looks like he’ll remain on track to open the season with the team next Thursday.
The 29-year-old southpaw is coming off one of his best performances to date. Despite losing a few weeks to an oblique strain and elbow soreness, he went 9-10 in 24 starts and finished the 2017 season with a 3.81 ERA, 2.5 BB/9 and 8.0 SO/9 over 146 1/3 innings. While Duffy entered camp with a clean bill of health, he struggled to execute against his spring training opponents and racked up 13 runs, four homers, seven walks and 11 strikeouts in 13 innings of Cactus League play.
The Royals are scheduled to kick off their home opener against the White Sox on Thursday, March 29 at 4:15 PM ET. Barring any further complications with his shoulder, Duffy will take the mound for the Royals, while James Shields is expected to make his first Opening Day appearance for the White Sox.