Masahiro Tanaka extended his winning streak to twenty-three victories since August 26, 2012 and nineteen victories since the start of the season. He needs just one more victory to tie the NPB's single season record set by Kazuhisa Inao in 1957. Tanaka is also one victory away from becoming the first Rakuten pitcher to win twenty games in a season since Hisashi Iwakuma won twenty-one games in 2008.
Nikkan Sports has posted a portion of Tanaka's post-game interview:
On looking back at your start tonight.
There was nothing good about it.
What was not good?
Everything. I was not good, but the position players helped me out.
You won the first game of a three game series.
It is all about winning. That I won despite struggling means a lot. They allowed me to win and I am glad we won.
You have won nineteen in a row [from the start of the season].
It was not a goal that I set. I am happy if I can win with each thing I do. The team atmosphere is good and I hope we can fight together as one again tomorrow.
Nineteen victories from the start of the season and twenty-three from last year.
It is all about winning one game at a time.
Source: Nikkan Sports 8/31/2013
Sports Hochi has posted quotes from players about Tanaka's game:
- Atsunoru Inaba (HAM) - The splitter is his weapon, but his fastball is really good this year. There is good spin and movement. The fastball travels the same path partway through and because he has control over it, the splitter is that much better.
- Nobuhiro Matsuda (SOF) - When he was younger that fastball was his main pitch. His control over the splitter a lot better this year and it can be a problem once you fall behind. You also do not want to help him out by swinging early. Very difficult to deal with.
- Sho Nakata (HAM) - When you fall behind, there is not much you can do, so I look to hit from the first pitch. You have to make the decision [otherwise you will struggle]. All his pitches are top quality. That pitch I hate the most is the slider, and then that splitter he uses to finish you off.
- Takumi Kuriyama (SEI) - I feel as though I am seeing an increase in situations where he takes a step back from things more than I see him ratchet things up in tight spots.
Source: Sports Hochi 8/31/2013
Sponichi has posted Katsuya Kakunaka's (LOT) take on Tanaka this year:
The biggest difference between this year and last year is the splitter. Last year, it was not so much the splitter as it was the fork. The fork is slower so it is not too difficult to hit regardless of how much it drops. The splitter is fast. And it looks like a fastball right up to the point where you start your swing. When he is on, it is almost like the ball drops after you swing the bat.
The fastball is also different compared to last year. If you look at the radar gun, it is faster, but there is also more movement. Last year it sounded like a heavy thud, this year it sounds like it is whizzing by. It is rising. And he is throwing more fastballs and splitters. When there are runners on base, it is a steady diet of fastballs and splitters. The slider tends to slip out so he is not using that pitch a lot. I think he knows this.
The only way to combat that is to make sure our pitchers hold his team to zero runs. The team cannot lose that way (laughter). The only thing you can do is be aggressive from the first pitch. Even if the pitch is a little high or is not what you are really looking for.
Source: Sponichi 8/31/2013
Stats during current twenty-three game winning streak
|8/26/2012||Nippon Ham||Kleenex Stadium||SP||W||10.0||32||112||3||0||8||0||0||0||0||2.36|
|4/9/2013||Nippon Ham||Tokyo Dome||SP||W||7.0||25||109||5||0||6||0||0||1||0||0.64|
|5/1/2013||Nippon Ham||Kleenex Stadium||SP||W||8.0||32||129||5||0||10||3||0||1||1||1.70|
|5/8/2013||Nippon Ham||Sapporo Dome||SP||W||7.0||25||95||4||1||7||0||0||2||2||1.84|
|7/9/2013||Nippon Ham||Tokyo Dome||SP||W||9.0||31||116||4||0||7||1||1||0||0||1.24|
|8/2/2013||Nippon Ham||Sapporo Dome||SP||W||9.0||34||136||8||0||12||1||0||1||1||1.26|
|Date||Opponent||Venue||29 GS||23 W||IP||BF||NP||H||HR||SO||BB||HBP||R||ER||ERA|