FORT MYERS, Fla. — Masahiro Tanaka struggled a bit in one of his final tuneups for the regular season, allowing three runs while pitching into the sixth inning, but the New York Yankees still beat the Minnesota Twins 5-4 victory Saturday.
Facing a close approximation of the Minnesota Twins’ opening-day lineup, Tanaka yielded five hits and a walk in 5 1-3 innings. The high-priced Japanese star walked just one, Joe Mauer in the third inning, and struck out six before a Hammond Stadium sellout crowd of 9,298.
"I’ve seen him sharper," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "I thought the first three innings, he lost a little of his command, but overall I was pleased. I don’t think he had his great stuff today, but he got it done."
This was the fourth appearance of the spring for Tanaka, who allowed one run in 4 1-3 innings against the Atlanta Braves his previous outing.
Scott Sizemore’s two-run single keyed a four-run fourth for the Yankees, who left most of their regulars back in Tampa.
Yankees: Making his first spring appearance against an American League foe, Tanaka ran the count to three balls on four of the first five batters he faced in the fourth inning. He remains on track to make his major league debut in the fourth game of the regular season, April 4 at Toronto.
"I felt that it was very obvious that I had good innings and I had bad innings out there," Tanaka said through a translator. "The innings that I thought were good, I think I had first strikes a lot. The innings that I gave up runs, I think it was the other way around."
Twins: Right-hander Kevin Correia faced nine batters in a four-run fourth but was sharp otherwise, facing the minimum in his other five innings. Correia threw 81 pitches and walked none. He has issued just one walk in 12 Grapefruit League innings this spring.
"Everything felt good today," Correia said. "I got to the pitch count we set out to go to, so I got my work in today. Nothing out of the ordinary. Progressing as planned. I’m ready to go."
Yankees: Outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury (strained right calf) stayed behind in Tampa and took batting practice. Girardi termed it a "good day." … Catcher Francisco Cervelli was hit on the hand with a pitch from Correia in the fourth inning and also took a foul tip off his groin, but Cervelli stayed in the game through the sixth.
Twins: Shortstop Pedro Florimon, in his fourth game back from a Feb. 17 appendectomy, struck out in all three plate appearances. Florimon also bobbled a sharp grounder to his left that was ruled a base hit in the third inning.
Twins centre fielder Aaron Hicks had a third-inning stolen base overturned when Girardi lodged a successful replay challenge. The reversal, which took 44 seconds to complete, cost the Twins a run when Brian Dozier followed with a single to centre off Tanaka.