It’s no secret that the Chicago Cubs will have to solve the split finger fastball of Masahiro Tanaka to have any chance Tuesday night of beating the New York Yankees.
“If you ask the hitters, it was very, very good,” said Cubs manager Rick Renteria, recalling that Tanaka limited the Cubs to two hits while striking out 10 in a 3-0 victory over Jason Hammel on April 16.
The Cubs collected eight hits in six innings against Tanaka en route to a 6-1 win and hand Tanaka (6-1) his first loss in eight starts.
With the victory, the Cubs (16-27) have won three consecutive games for the second time this season.
John Baker led off the third with his third hit of the season, a single over the head of Alfonso Soriano in right, and Baker moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Hammel (5-2).
A passed ball by Brian McCann advanced Baker to third as showers began to fall on Wrigley Field, and Emilio Bonifacio came through with a single to score Baker.
Luis Valbuena collected his second double off Tanaka to start the fourth and scored on a single by Baker past shortstop Derek Jeter with the infield drawn in. The Cubs, however, missed a chance to pad their lead when Mike Olt was thrown out at home plate after Hammel bunted, and the same fate occurred to Baker after Bonifacio attempted a bunt with two out in the inning.
The Cubs added two more runs in the sixth off Tanaka on singles by Valbuena and Nate Schierholtz and sacrifice flies by Mike Olt and Baker.
They drew three walks off three relievers to add two more runs in the seventh.
Hammel survived a rocky first inning that started when Brett Gardner hit a hard grounder off his right pitching hand for a single. Hammel induced Mark Teixeira to fly to center to escape danger.
The Yankees finally broke through against Hammel in the sixth on a double by Gardner and a two-out single by Teixeira. Hammel was pulled after walking Brian McCann, and Justin Grimm induced Alfonso Soriano to ground into a force play at third on the first pitch.