The last time Masahiro Tanaka pitched at Fenway Park, it was an outright disaster that resulted in the worst start of his career.
After allowing 12 runs on 12 hits in 3 1/3 innings July 25, Tanaka returns to the scene of that ugliness Sunday night when the New York Yankees visit the Boston Red Sox for the third game of a four-game series.
Tanaka (10-8, 4.42 ERA) has faced Boston twice this season and the results are ugly; he has allowed 18 runs on 16 hits in four innings.
When the teams met in London on June 29, Tanaka allowed six runs while getting only two outs in a game the Yankees won 17-13. In July, however, the Yankees wound up with a 19-3 loss after Tanaka allowed seven runs in the first inning.
Since that awful night in Fenway, Tanaka has pitched well, going 3-2 with a 3.38 ERA in his last seven starts. During that span, he has allowed two runs or less five times, including Monday's 7-0 loss to Texas when he allowed two runs on seven hits in six innings.
"I feel like I'm doing better," Tanaka said through a translator following his start on Monday. "Obviously, compared to the first couple of months, I'm out there, being able to do what I want to do. So all in (all), I think I feel pretty good about myself."
Overall Tanaka is 8-5 with a 5.64 ERA in 20 career starts against Boston. He is 4-3 with a 5.52 ERA in 10 career starts in Fenway.
Rick Porcello (12-11, 5.63) opposed Tanaka in Fenway in July and will also start Sunday. Porcello is 6-4 since the All-Star break in 10 starts but also has a 6.20 ERA and allowed six runs for the third time since the break Tuesday against Minnesota when he allowed six runs on eight hits in four innings.
Porcello is 11-9 with a 3.71 ERA in 25 career starts against the Yankees.
The Yankees head into their penultimate game against Boston with nine wins in their last 12 games. They evened up the weekend series with a 5-1 victory on Saturday when Edwin Encarnacion hit a two-run homer and added an RBI double.
Encarnacion has two homers since returning from a right wrist injury on Tuesday that cost him 30 games.
Boston is on the verge of being eliminated from the AL East, and its wild-card hopes are fading because of four losses in its last seven games.
Saturday's loss dropped the Red Sox seven games behind Oakland for the second wild-card spot.
"It's pretty tough," Red Sox manager Alex Cora said of the play in right field. "The ball never came out. It was hit hard so he didn't have time to adjust. He put his hand up and all that. I think the ball hit his glove, I think."
--Field Level Media