Tanaka honored for sensational May
First shutout part of standout stretch in Yankees rookie's five-win month
Masahiro Tanaka's big splash in the Major Leagues continued through May, as he was named the American League Pitcher of the Month for his six standout appearances.
Tanaka went 5-1 with a 1.88 ERA in May, recording one shutout, 42 strikeouts and just six walks over 43 innings. It's his first career monthly award and the first for a Yankees pitcher since Ivan Nova in August 2013. The right-hander is the first Yanks rookie to win the award since its inception in 1979. The last rookie to earn the honor was Tampa Bay's Chris Archer in July 2013.
"I'm really honored and happy to be able to receive such an award," Tanaka said through an interpreter. "But basically, the bottom line is I'm not pitching or playing to get that award. I can't really be satisfied just because of this."
Among qualified starters, Tanaka led the AL in wins and placed second in ERA, third in strikeouts and tied for third in innings pitched. Opponents hit .229 off him in May.
After winning his first two starts of the month, Tanaka shut down the crosstown Mets in the Subway Series, holding them to just four hits while striking out eight and posting his first career shutout. He joined Andy Pettitte as the only other Yankees starter to throw a shutout against the Mets.
On May 20, Tanaka's run of 42 regular-season starts without a loss (34-0 between Nippon Professional Baseball and MLB) came to an end when he was beaten by the Cubs. It was his first defeat since Aug. 19, 2012.
Tanaka won his next game, then his final start of the month, against Minnesota on Saturday. He threw eight innings and allowed just one unearned run on four hits with nine strikeouts that day.
Tanaka has recorded a quality start in each of his last 11 outings, the longest active streak in the Majors. He and Montreal's Steve Rogers are the only pitchers since earned runs became a statistic in 1913 to produce quality starts in each of their first 11 games. Rogers' streak hit 16 during the 1973 season.