Game 44: New York Yankees at Chicago Cubs, Tanaka vs. Hammel

Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

Tanaka Time in the Windy City

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Are you an optimist or a pessimist?

If you're a dreamer of improbable dreams, then you must find yourself filled with awe and hope each time Tanaka takes the mound as an unbeaten major league rookie.

If you're a tactician, then you accept that everything has to end (or else nothing new could get started). And each time Tanaka takes the mound there's a nagging little voice that says, "Today?"

When Hammel and Tanaka matched up in April, Hammel allowed only 3 runs in 7 innings but took the loss because Tanaka pitched 8 shutout innings as part of a doubleheader sweep. Without the DH, the Yanks have to put one of their best bats on the bench.

Since Vidal Nuno's meltdown last Tuesday, the Yankees have allowed more than 3 runs only once. That once, they lost; the other four games they won. And that's how you claw your way over .500 and how you stay in first place in the AL East. With only 6 losses separating the top and bottom of the AL East, there's no margin for error.

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