The next milestone in Masahiro Tanaka's comeback schedule was reached last night, as Tanaka took the mound for Triple-A Scranton/Wilke-Barre in his first MiL rehab start. He pitched 3 shutout innings for the RailRiders, giving up 2 hits, striking out 2, and walking none. With a pitch count of 45, Tanaka only threw 41 to get through his 3 innings and did so without any physical issues or discomfort in his right arm.
After the game, Tanaka summed up his night with this statement:
“I was able to use all my pitches. I felt pretty good. Not necessarily different than how I usually go into a game. I was looking to obviously pitch all my pitches with force, and I was able to do that tonight.”
Along with no arm problems, that's about the best you can hope for in a first start back. He threw all his pitches without issue and threw them with force and command. For what it's worth, the stadium radar gun had him sitting low 90s with his fastball and topping out at 92, which is where he was living in his Major League starts before the injury.
As far as next steps, the team has yet to announce them but I have to imagine they have something in mind. First and foremost they need to see how Tanaka's arm feels today the first morning after its hardest test yet. Assuming he feels fine, the safe bet is that he'll make at least 2 more MiL starts to build his pitch count back up and maybe 3. I'm sure we'll find out soon.
- Oh yeah, the actual game. The RailRiders won 4-3 on a walk-off base hit in the 10th inning. Game winner came off the bat of Ben Gamel, who's been playing pretty well this year (.333/.387/.492).
- Tyler Austin and Ramon Flores each had 2 hits and 1 RBI. One of Austin's hits was a double. He's been painfully slow to start the season, and Flores has cooled down this month after a red hot April.
- In the bullpen, Jacob Lindgren got 4 outs without allowing a run, striking out 2 and walking none. Good to see him finally prove he can get upper-level hitters out.