New York Yankees manager Joe Girardi lauded the "special" Masahiro Tanaka after the pitcher led his team to victory over the Houston Astros.
Tanaka spun seven shut-out innings with eight strikeouts in the Yankees' 5-0 game five win on Wednesday.
"He was special again," Girardi said after the game. "You look at his three starts in the play-offs, they've been special. He wins the one game 1-0, I believe, the first start. His two starts here have been really good. And we needed it. This was a big game for us. Every game is a big game and you're just trying to win one game.
"But as we've seen, runs have been tough for us to score off of [Dallas] Keuchel. And for us to get four, I give our guys a lot of credit, because he's really tough."
Tanaka's gem gave the Yankees a 3-2 American League Championship Series lead after losing the first two games. It was the Yankees' second three-game winning streak this postseason.
"I'm really glad how everything turned out," Tanaka said after the game. "But I can't forget that it's not over yet. We'll see what happens moving forward, but I will start preparing myself for tomorrow."
Tonight's Hiro.— New York Yankees (@Yankees) October 19, 2017
7 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 8 K. pic.twitter.com/f9fTUl9eJv
Despite enduring some difficult starts during the regular season, which rose his ERA up to 4.74, Tanaka has not been surprised by his form this postseason.
"No, not necessarily [surprised]. All I'm trying to do out there is just try to do my best and that's pretty much it. So, no, not necessarily," Tanaka said. "I feel like I'm just keeping it really simple. You go out there and you fight and you empty the tank. I think I'm just really clear of what I need to do out there and I'm just executing that."
Through five games this series, only home teams have won. Girardi commended the New York fans for supporting them the last three games.
"I think they feed off of it a lot. And I think it definitely helps them," Girardi said. "I've heard our players talk about it. It's electric. It's something that they haven't seen. And you get it during the season sometimes, certain teams that we face. But this is up a whole other notch. It's as good an atmosphere as I remember at this new ballpark."
The Yankees will head back to Houston for game six on Friday. They are just one win away from clinching a World Series berth.
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