Yankees starter Masahiro Tanaka went above and beyond the call of duty during Saturday’s 2-1 loss to the Rays. He held the Rays scoreless through five innings and had struck out both Austin Meadows and Tommy Pham in the top of the sixth when Ji-Man Choi roped a double out to left field. With a one-run lead to protect, Tanaka induced a first-pitch groundout from Yandy Díaz, but things didn’t go quite as expected: the ball ricocheted off of his right leg, then caromed back toward first base for an easy 1-3 putout.
It’s a play that might not have worked quite so perfectly if the ball hadn’t struck Tanaka’s shin at just the right angle. Unfortunately for the pitcher, it was also one of the hardest-hit batted balls he’d allowed all year — and one that left a definite contusion on his leg. He exited with a trainer and did not return for the seventh inning, when Tommy Kahnle stepped in for the starter and gave up the tying run on a Brandon Lowe solo shot.
For now, however, it doesn’t seem as though the Yankees have much to worry about. X-rays returned negative for any fractures, and Tanaka is likely to make a full recovery well before his next scheduled start. So far this season, the 30-year-old righty is 3-3 through 10 starts with a 3.09 ERA, 2.1 BB/9, and 8.1 SO/9 across 58 1/3 innings.
The Yankees, meanwhile, are now 27-17 following Saturday’s loss and sit just half a game behind the Rays for first place in the AL East.