Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: The Yankees lost a starting pitcher to injury suffered while running the bases during interleague play. Right-hander Masahiro Tanaka departed Friday night’s game after five innings with what appears to be a baserunning-related injury. According to reports, he experienced stiffness in both hamstrings.
The incident occurred in the top of the sixth inning. Tanaka reached first safely on an error by Mets first baseman Adrian Gonzalez. Following a Gleyber Torres single and Brett Gardner walk, the right-hander found himself on third base with just one out. He conferred with third base coach Phil Nevin about potential strategies and immediately put one into action as Aaron Judge lifted a sacrifice fly.
Tanaka tagged up on the fly ball and then broke for home. He ran well down the line, but right before reaching the plate it appeared he couldn’t decided whether to come in standing up or sliding. He ultimately scored standing, but it was awkward looking.
He went right into the clubhouse afterwards; Jonathan Holder took his place on the mound.
Tanaka, 29, has had a strange season this year. He’s pitched to an unsightly 4.79 ERA (5.05 FIP), but at times flashed signs of brilliance. Tonight proved no different, as he allowed a leadoff home run to Brandon Nimmo, but then settled in nicely.
Now there will undoubtedly be comparisons to Chien-Ming Wang, who suffered a career-altering injury while running the bases in Houston. More apt, however, is Tanaka himself. He suffered a pulled hamstring while baserunning against the Mets three years ago. He literally got hurt running in the same darn park.
In the wake of Jordan Montgomery’s Tommy John surgery, the Yankees are razor thin on pitching depth. They cannot afford a significant injury to Tanaka. Hold your breath, because otherwise Brian Cashman will have to trade for a pitcher as soon as possible.