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Yankees Tanaka Ready For First Start Against Rival Red Sox

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New York Yankees pitcher Masahiro Tanaka. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

New York Yankees pitcher Masahiro Tanaka. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

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BOSTON (AP/CBS) — Masahiro Tanaka is well aware of what awaits in his first start Tuesday night at Fenway Park: the Green Monster and Boston’s fanatical fans.

The Japanese star plays his first game at Fenway on Tuesday night, when the Yankees kick off a three-game series against their AL East rival.

“I’m sure that the fans will be heated up a bit,” Tanaka said through an interpreter. “I’ve seen the two teams play (on TV), and I understand there’s a rivalry between the two teams going into the game. It should be a good experience going up on the mound that day and I’m very much looking forward to it.”

The 25-year-old righty has a simple plan for the 37-foot-high Green Monster in left field.

“I understand that if you give up flyballs, it might be dangerous,” he said. “So, I think the best thing to do is try to get as many groundball outs as possible.”

Tanaka is 2-0 with a 2.05 ERA in three games with 28 strikeouts and two walks in 22 innings. He has twirled back-to-back 10 K games, and his 28 strikeouts are the most by a Yankees pitcher in his first three career starts.

“Looking forward to seeing him pitch,” Boston manager John Farrell told reporters on Monday. “Anyone who’s a fan of the game would want to see a highly-touted guy coming to the Majors here. I have only seen highlights or video of him prior to signing with New York, but we know he’s got a well-above-average split-fingered fastball. Competitive, strong, and looking forward to seeing him on the field and across the field from him.”

“He’s living up to the billing,” said Boston catcher David Ross. “He got all that money for a reason. He’s obviously a really good pitcher and we’re looking forward to facing him.”

Tanaka went 24-0 with a 1.27 ERA last year to lead the Rakuten Golden Eagles to their first Japan Series title, then signed a $155 million, seven-year contract with the Yankees.

The Yankees’ offense will face Boston ace Jon Lester, who is 2-2 with a 2.17 ERA in four starts this season.

(TM and © Copyright 2014 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2013 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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