Masahiro Tanaka threw six scoreless innings and allowed just one hit in Game 1 of the ALCS against the Houston Astros, and early on it looked like he was going to have a repeat performance in Game 4 on Thursday night, but it just wasn't meant to be.
The right-hander ended up allowing four runs (three earned) as the Yankees fell to the Astros 8-3 and now trailed the ALCS 3-1.
He retired six out of seven batters to start the game, walking just one, and throwing 35 pitches through two innings. The Yankees even gave him an early 1-0 lead when Brett Gardner walked with the bases loaded in the first inning.
Tanaka walked Robinson Chirinos to start the third inning, and then gave up his first hit of the game to Josh Reddick. Next, on a 1-0 count, George Springer blasted a three-run homer to left field, giving the Astros a 3-1 lead.
Prior to that home run, Tanaka had allowed just one HR in his last six postseason starts.
The Astros continued to put the ball in play during the third inning, as Jose Altuve reached on an infield single and Michael Brantley singled to right field. Astros 3B Alex Bregman then hit a grounder back to Tanaka, and he was able to get Altuve out running home, but the Astros advanced runners to second and third base.
Luckily, Tanaka escaped the third inning after getting the next two batters out and forcing the Astros to leave two runners in scoring position stranded.
He then got back in a groove, getting six straight batters out over the fourth and fifth inning. Aaron Judge even helped Tanaka out when he made an impressive diving catch in right-center field to end the fifth, stealing a hit away from Brantley.
Tanaka returned to the mound in the sixth inning, and Alex Bregman reached base on an error after a hard hit ball to first base that was mishandled.
After four runs (three earned) on 85 pitches over five innings, Tanaka's night came to an end with Chad Green coming in for relief. He finished Game 4 with just one strikeout, two walks and four hits allowed.
"I thought he battled well," said Boone. "They made pretty good contact with him. He didn't have a lot of strikeouts so the fact that he got as deep through their order as he did kind of speaks to his guile a little bit. I didn't really think he had his split tonight, but he made some pitches. They squared him up a handful of times right at some guys.
"So I thought he battled well and he made some pitches when he had to, and obviously made the big mistake on the split that turned into more of a two-seamer, which it seemed like how his split was working a little bit tonight. Considering, I thought he battled well and they took some pretty good at-bats against him."
Thursday's outing was the first postseason game of Tanaka's career in which he allowed more than two earned runs.