Yankees' Tanaka looks for first win vs. Tigers

NEW YORK -- The New York Yankees are eagerly anticipating the debuts of new starting pitchers Sonny Gray and Jaime Garcia.

Seeing if Masahiro Tanaka can follow up his best outing of the season also is a source of curiosity.

After recording a career-high 14 strikeouts Friday, Tanaka will be on the mound for New York on Wednesday afternoon in the rubber match of a three-game series with the Detroit Tigers.

Tanaka (8-9) is the only Yankees starting pitcher with a losing record, and his 5.09 ERA is the highest on the team. The rotation add the two newcomers later in the week: Gray will start Thursday in Cleveland, and Garcia will oppose the Indians on Friday.

Tanaka's record and ERA are sub-par because seven times the right-hander was charged with at least five earned runs. In seven other starts, Tanaka allowed two earned runs or fewer.

In a 6-1 win over the Tampa Bay Rays on Friday, Tanaka retired the first 17 hitters and allowed one run and two hits in eight innings.

"He was incredible," Yankees right fielder Aaron Judge said. "He attacked the zone. That's what you expect out of your ace."

"He threw a brilliant game tonight," New York manager Joe Girardi said. "You want to get him on a roll because he's really important to us."

Tanaka will be pitching on four days' rest and during the daytime, two areas he has struggled with this season. On regular rest, he is 4-2 with a 5.00 ERA in six starts; and in six daytime starts, Tanaka is 0-5 with a 14.81 ERA.

In three career starts against Detroit, Tanaka is 0-2 with a 5.60 ERA. He last faced the Tigers on June 11, 2016, when he allowed five runs and six hits in 6 1/3 innings.

The Yankees will be hoping some semblance of the good Tanaka appears as they attempt to finish their first homestand after the All-Star break with a 7-2 record. The Yankees fell short Tuesday in a 4-3 loss when rookie Clint Frazier made the final out with two on.

Detroit will look to win for the sixth time in 14 games after John Hicks hit a three-run homer and Justin Upton hit a solo homer Tuesday. If the Tigers hold a lead in the ninth inning of a close game, Shane Greene will get another save opportunity.

Greene, anointed Detroit's closer when Justin Wilson was traded to the Chicago Cubs on Monday, he recorded a five-out save on 24 pitches Tuesday.

"He's going to get the opportunity for sure," Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said. "I think people around the league know he's a pretty good relief pitcher. He's pitched in a number of roles."

On a team with the highest bullpen ERA in the majors, Greene owns a 2.64 ERA in 51 appearances.

The Tigers hope Jordan Zimmermann can pitch well enough to line things up for Greene at the end of the game.

Zimmermann (6-8, 5.69 ERA) is 2-4 with a 4.93 ERA in his past 10 starts. He is coming one off his better efforts of the year when he allowed three runs and six hits in seven innings during a no-decision Friday as Detroit lost 6-5 to the Houston Astros.

It marked the ninth time Zimmermann allowed three earned runs or fewer and the second time he pitched at least seven innings. It also occurred in a start when Zimmermann threw 80 pitches before being lifted for Bruce Rondon, who coughed up the lead.

"My gut was it was time to get Zimmermann out of the game," Ausmus said Friday. "He's coming back around the lineup again. The more hitters see guys, the better chance they have against them. Zimm did an outstanding job for seven innings. His job was done."

Zimmermann is 2-0 with a 1.80 ERA in three starts against the Yankees, but Wednesday will be his first start at Yankee Stadium. He last faced the Yankees April 8, 2016, when he allowed two hits in seven scoreless innings.

Although Zimmermann's experience against the Yankees is limited, he does know some of New York's lineup from his time in the National League.

Chase Headley is 4-for-24 with nine strikeouts against him, Matt Holliday is 4-for-19, Todd Frazier is 5-for-18 while Didi Gregorius is 3-for-10.
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