HOUSTON -- At least publicly, the Yankees did not seem as alarmed as some by Masahiro Tanaka's last outing, preferring to chalk it up as one of the clunkers every pitcher seems to turn in during the course of a long season.
Yet it was enough to send the right-hander to the bullpen twice specifically for fine-tuning his mechanics. Tanaka hopes to have ironed out those issues with the help of pitching coach Larry Rothschild and anticipates better results against the big-swinging Astros on Saturday at Minute Maid Park.
"I feel that I'm at a pretty good place," Tanaka said through an interpreter. "I was able to work on that in the bullpen. The one thing I need to do is get that out in the game, take what I've been working on and do that in the games."
Tanaka had turned in three good starts after being activated from the disabled list earlier this month, but he ran into trouble against the Tigers on June 21 in New York. Detroit pounded Tanaka for seven runs (five earned) and 10 hits over five innings, with J.D. Martinez homering twice and Victor Martinez also going deep.
"Obviously, we need him to bounce back," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "We need him to be a staple in our rotation. He had a tough start against the Tigers; really tough. No location. He couldn't locate his fastball, his split was up in the zone. It happens. When it happens to a guy of this caliber, sometimes you're a little bit shocked. But it does happen to everyone."
Tanaka, who is 4-3 with a 3.17 ERA in eight starts and will oppose Houston's Brett Oberholtzer on Saturday, said that the week of preparation leading up to the outing has been difficult for him. Mostly, he has been looking forward to putting that ugly Detroit start out of his mind.
"To be honest with you, when you really feel like it's out of your mind is when you actually win a game," Tanaka said. "The one thing is that I'm looking towards the next game. Obviously I'm optimistic and looking forward to my next start, but the one thing that'll make me feel relieved is to go out there and pitch well, and the team winning."
Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch, on Facebook and read his MLBlog, Bombers Beat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.