Iwakuma-Tanaka duel a rare matchup between Japanese starters

These former teammates squared off on Sunday.
These former teammates squared off on Sunday. (USATSI)

The Yankees beat the Mariners, 4-3, Sunday in Yankee Stadium in a game that carried some history with international flavor. Hisashi Iwakuma was the starter for the visitors while Masahiro Tanaka took the ball for the Yankees.

It marked the 11th time that an all-Japan pitching matchup has taken place in Major League Baseball. The previous battles between two Japanese-born starters (thanks again to baseball-reference.com play index):

  • May 7, 1999: Mac Suzuki vs. Hideki Irabu (Yankees won 10-1)
  • July 2, 2000: Hideo Nomo vs. Mac Suzuki (Tigers won 2-0)
  • June 19, 2002: Mac Suzuki vs. Tomo Ohka (Expos won 6-3)
  • May 9, 2007: Daisuke Matsuzaka vs. Tomo Ohka (Red Sox won 9-3)
  • July 22, 2010: Hisanori Takahashi vs. Hiroki Kuroda (Mets won 2-0)
  • April 24, 2012: Hiroki Kuroda vs. Yu Darvish (Rangers won 2-0)
  • Sept. 12, 2012: Hisashi Iwakuma vs. Yu Darvish (Mariners won 9-3)
  • Oct. 3, 2012: Daisuke Matsuzaka vs. Hiroki Kuroda (Yankees won 14-2)
  • April 12, 2013: Yu Darvish vs. Hisashi Iwakuma (Mariners won 3-1)
  • July 25, 2013: Yu Darvish vs. Hiroki Kuroda (Yankees won 4-2)

Past that, though, Iwakuma and Tanaka were teammates in NPB on the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles from 2007-11, making this the first time an all-Japan pitching matchup pitted former NPB teammates against one another.

"I was very excited to face (my) ex-teammate," Iwakuma said through a translator (AP). "Just watching him, in general, he was pitching with composure and he kept the ball down. Looking at that, I said to myself, 'I've got to keep the ball down, too.' And I was able to make adjustments, but it was kind of too late."

Iwakuma took the loss, allowing four runs on eight hits in seven innings. Tanaka got the W, working seven innings of his own, but only allowing two earned runs on six hits. He struck out six without walking anyone.

CBS Sports Writer

Matt Snyder has been a baseball writer with CBS Sports since 2011. A member of the BBWAA, he's now covered every World Series since 2010. The former Indiana University baseball player now lives on the... Full Bio

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