By Bruce Levine-
(CBS) New York right-hander Masahiro Tanaka got a taste of what it would have been like pitching his home games at Wrigley Field on Tuesday night. The $155-million man wasn’t at his best on Tuesday evening, giving up single runs in the third and fourth innings and two runs in the sixth as the Cubs topped the Yankees, 6-1. Tanaka suffered his first loss of the year after entering with a 6-0 record and 2.17 ERA.
Tanaka was clearly bothered by a steady rain that affected his footing on the mound. Grounds crew workers were summoned in the third inning to add diamond dry to the bump where the pitcher had landing problems.
Tanaka hadn’t lost a professional start since August of 2012. He was a perfect 24-0 in Japan last year (though he lost a game in relief in the playoffs). He also had won his last two starts of the 2012 campaign before his 6-0 this season, making him 32-0 in that stretch.
The Cubs were among the runners-up in the Tanaka sweepstakes last offseason that ended with a seven-year contract for him in New York. The rumor of a Chicago offer of $120 million has never been confirmed.
Luis Valbuena led the Cubs attack on Tanaka with three hits, including two doubles and two runs scored. Valbuena’s now riding a five-game hitting streak and was a big part of the team’s patient approach to the Yankee starter.
“We talked in our hitting meeting to see the ball up (in the zone),” Valbuena said. “He was up more than the first time we faced him. All of my hits were on fastballs. That was different from the nasty splits he threw me in New York.”
On April 16, Tanaka shut out the Cubs on two hits through eight innings. He struck out 10 Cubs hitters that night.
“His best pitch was not too good today,” Cubs shortstop Starlin Castro said Tuesday night. “He did not throw as hard as he did the last time we saw him. He was throwing 94-95 mph in New York. Today it was 90. When his fastball is like that, it is easier to see his nasty pitches. ”
The Cubs have now won three straight games for the second time in 2014.
Bruce Levine covers the Cubs and White Sox for 670 The Score and CBSChicago.com. Follow him on Twitter @MLBBruceLevine.