Tanaka looks better, but loses command

Tanaka looks better, but loses command

BALTIMORE -- Masahiro Tanaka was supposed to be the one sure bet in the Yankees' rotation, but through two starts, the ace right-hander has been anything but.

Tanaka showed progress in bouncing back from his Opening Day clunker, completing five innings before leaving in line for the victory, but his command was spotty while allowing three runs on six hits in the Yankees' 5-4 loss to the Orioles on Saturday at Camden Yards.

"I'm obviously disappointed," Tanaka said through an interpreter. "I feel like I wasn't able to do what a starter is supposed to do in the two games. You can't get your head down. You've got to look at the positives and try to make the necessary adjustments and move forward."

After surrendering a career-high seven earned runs on Opening Day, Tanaka blanked the Orioles over the first three innings before losing the strike zone. He hit two batters for the first time in his career and issued four walks for just the third time in 77 big league starts.

"I felt like I had good command of the ball going into the game, for the first three innings," Tanaka said. "As you could see, the fourth inning and fifth inning, that command started getting out of sync."

Yankees manager Joe Girardi said that it seemed like Tanaka had Seth Smith put away in the fifth, but Smith singled sharply to center field on an 0-2 pitch. Tanaka then drilled Adam Jones to set up Manny Machado's run-scoring double off the right-field wall.

Smith singles after 10 pitches

"He made some pitches to keep it where it was, but it looked like he was going to be able to go six or seven innings today," Girardi said.

Mark Trumbo's added a run-scoring fielder's choice before Tanaka pinned the bases loaded by striking out Hyun Soo Kim and getting Jonathan Schoop to pop out, concluding his 92-pitch outing.

"In the end, ultimately, he came out and we had the lead," catcher Austin Romine said. "He gave us everything he had there toward the end. That's all you can ask from a pitcher against a good hitting team like that."

Bryan Hoch has covered the Yankees for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and on Facebook. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.