Masahiro Tanaka will get his first at-bat of the season during his start tonight against the Marlins

Masahiro Tanaka

Masahiro Tanaka

The Yankees (34-28) play the first game of their two-game series in Miami against the Marlins (27-37) today at 7:10 p.m. After this series at the state-of-the-art Marlins Park, the Yankees will play the Marlins at Yankee Stadium on Wednesday and Thursday. It is rare that American League and National League teams play two series in a row at their respective stadiums.

Masahiro Tanaka, who will get his third start for the Yankees since coming off of the disabled list, will be pitching against the Marlins for the first time. He has allowed one run in both of his starts since coming off of the DL on June 3, and he has an impressive 15 strikeouts and zero walks in those two starts.

His previous two starts, against the Mariners and Nationals, prove that he is back to pitching the way he did last season when he was on track to possibly winning the Cy Young before going on the disabled list for 2.5 months. His ERA, which was a solid 3.22 ERA before his DL stint due to wrist and forearm issues, is now an outstanding 2.48. He is also, 4-1, with a 0.80 WHIP and .172 batting average against.

Tanaka pitching at Marlins Park means that he will step up to the plate for the fourth time in his career. Last season he did so three times when the Yankees played at the Milwaukee Brewers, New York Mets and Chicago Cubs. He had one hit in his nine at-bats last season.

It will be important for him not to overextend himself if he gets to first base so that he does not get injured on the bases like Chien-Ming Wang did while running the bases in 2008. Wang injured his right foot on June 15 of 2008 and ended up having to miss the rest of the season. The Yankees want Tanaka, who forms a dominant top of the rotation with Michael Pineda, to stay healthy the rest of the season and don’t want him to have to miss time for an injury that has nothing to do with pitching.

Tom Koehler, who is in his third full major-league season, will get the start for the Marlins. He will be pitching against his hometown team as he was born in the Bronx and went to college at Stony Brook. He has a 4.00 ERA, 52 strikeouts and 28 walks in 12 starts this season.

He throws a four-seam fastball (93mph), knuckle curve (80mph), slider (87mph) and sinker (93mph).

In the second game of the series on Tuesday, Nathan Eovaldi (5-1, 4.13 ERA) will get the start for the Yankees and former Yankee David Phelps (4-3, 4.11 ERA) will get the start for Miami. Eovaldi has a 2.92 ERA in his two starts in June.

He is coming off of a start where he tied a season-high with his 7.0 innings while striking out four and allowing three earned runs. In his first June start, Eovaldi allowed only one run in 5.1 innings, but had to leave in the fifth because he had walked four and allowed four hits.

Eovaldi has struggled in the sixth inning in many of his starts. Also, in starts where he has allowed one or more homers he has allowed three runs or more four out of five times and in starts when he has not allowed a homer he has allowed one run or less three out of five times. He has located his secondary pitches and thrown his fastball in the right count better recently since he has allowed one earned run in two out of his last four starts.

Phelps is coming off a start on June 11 when he did not allow a run in eight innings pitched. However, in his previous start he allowed nine runs in only 3.2 innings. Phelps, who made a 11 starts for the Yankees last season, was traded along with Martin Prado to the Marlins on December 14 for Eovaldi, Garrett Jones and Domingo German.

Jones, who is in his eighth season, has a .254 average with three homers and 10 RBIs. He has hit much better the previous three weeks since he had a .150 average on May 20 with no homers and 1 RBI.

Since the National League does not have the DH, Joe Girardi said that he doesn’t plan on starting Alex Rodriguez in the field.

I never welcome days off,” he said. “I love to play. But it worked pretty well for me in Washington; after those two days off, I swung the bat pretty well at home.


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