Every start for Masahiro Tanaka is a must watch, but tonight’s start might be a must watch for everyone across the country considering the series finale between the Yankees and the Angels airs on ESPN as part of their ‘Sunday Night Baseball’ series. Tanaka understands the hype of being on National television, he’s also aware of the hype around his opponent, but he says he doesn’t get sucked into it, and realizes he has a job to do.
It doesn’t change my approach to the game,” he said. “As being a professional, I just have to do my job.”
Tanaka watches film on every player before his start, and regardless of the team, his goal of retiring batters never changes. It doesn’t matter if they’re 22-year-old Mike Trout who is arguably one of the best players in baseball or 34-year-old Albert Pujols who just hit his 500th career home run; all Tanaka focuses on is trying to find a way to approach each hitter.
“I’ve been playing in Japan for the last seven years, so to be honest with you, I don’t know much about the batters (in the states),” he said. “You can tell that they’re really good batters, but the truth is, I haven’t had a chance to face them yet.”
Well, Tanaka will have his chance tonight and this could be an ultimate test for him since he’s on national television and is facing a dangerous lineup, maybe more dangerous than the Boston Red Sox. Time will tell how he will fare, but for now all he can do is pitch and hope the Yankees clinch a victory.