CHICAGO -- The win statistic is among the most derided in the modern age of baseball statistics. But no one could dismiss the impressiveness of Masahiro Tanaka's personal winning streak that spanned three seasons and two countries.
From Japan to the United States, Tanaka went 34-0 over 42 starts since his last regular-season loss on Aug. 19, 2012.
Of course, that streak ended when Tanaka faced the Blue and White Pinstripes Machine for a second time this season. The Chicago Cubs scored four runs against Tanaka in a 6-1 victory on Tuesday night.
"Me and [Jason] Hammel were joking Floyd Mayweather might lose now," Cubs catcher John Baker said. "We beat the Mayweather of baseball today."
Down goes Tanaka! Down goes Tanaka!
How about that? The guy who can't lose falls to the organization that doesn't want to win.
Cubs president Theo Epstein must have been conflicted. On one hand, he loves beating the Yankees. On the other, the 2015 draft is just around the corner.
Just kidding. The Cubs (16-27) have plenty of time to lose once they trade Jeff Samardzija and Hammel. The Cubs' players and coaches, the ones unconcerned with draft picks and "the plan," want to win now, and this victory was sweet.
It has been a tough season, and it's not yet June.
"Yeah, of course," Cubs shortstop Starlin Castro said. "Especially since he had gone back-to-back seasons without losing. It's good we beat a guy like that."
So, take that Tanaka, who spurned the Cubs' five- to eight-year plan for the glitz, glamour and $155 million contract of the New York Yankees.
And take that, Joe Girardi, who also spurned the Cubs' winding path for the Yanks' gold-plated road.
And take that, Alfonso Soriano, who is, um, still the Cubs' highest-paid player and maybe the most popular.
In their first meeting on April 16 at Yankee Stadium, Tanaka held the Cubs to two infield hits in eight innings. Some cynics came to Wrigley on Tuesday wondering if the Cubs could get no-hit for the first time since 1965.
Shows what I ... I mean those damn cynics, know.
Since I'm guessing you didn't watch this game, you're probably wondering, how in Wrigleyville did this happen?
Well, as the story goes, "It was a dark and stormy night. ..."
After a warm, sunny pregame session that saw the retiring Derek Jeter get honored and Soriano happily reconnect with his former teammates, the clouds darkened over Wrigley. Not the metaphorical ones that always hang out here, either.
Pitching in the rain for most of the start, Tanaka seemed unnerved as the Cubs got to him in the second, third and fourth innings, scoring two runs. They would have tacked on more if not for two failed bunts, each of which ended with a runner getting tagged at home.
In all, Tanaka (6-1, 2.39 ERA) gave up four runs, three earned, on eight hits. He struck out seven and walked one in a season-low six innings.
The three earned runs and eight hits matched Tanaka's season highs. No team had scored four against Tanaka, errors or not.