It wasn't the Cubs' "stars" getting to him, either. Castro and Anthony Rizzo went a combined 0-for-5 against Tanaka, with three strikeouts. But Luis Valbuena had three hits, backup catcher Baker had two hits (after having two previously all season) and Mike Olt drove in three runs.
Maybe that's the key for the Cubs' offense: more rain. Or is that against the rooftops agreement?
Weather aside, it helped that the Cubs were the first team to see Tanaka twice. After his April domination in the Bronx, Cubs manager Rick Renteria said his hitters were more prepared.
"We've seen him striking some of the best hitters in baseball out and making people look foolish," Baker added. "A lot of us here already had that experience of swinging and laughing and looking at the dugout, like 'What the heck was that pitch?' We really executed."
It also helped, Castro said, that Tanaka's velocity was down and his pitches (sinker, splitter and slider) weren't moving quite as much as they did at Yankee Stadium.
"He didn't throw as hard as he did in New York," Castro said. "He threw 94, 95 [there], only 90 today. When the pitches come in like that, you can see more of his nasty pitches."
Hammel improved to 5-2, giving up one run in 5 2/3 innings. He was the backup plan, signing for one year and $6 million, with the likelihood he'll get moved, like Scott Feldman did last season.
"It just kind of goes to show sometimes you don't have to spend all the money to get a superstar player," Baker said. "Sometimes that guy is just kind of lying in wait. That was [Hammel]."
Of course, Hammel wouldn't mind the additional $149 million on Tanaka's deal. "I'd like some of it, as well," Baker said.
In a fantasy world, Tanaka would be pitching for the Cubs and Girardi would be managing them ... and the Cubs would have locked up Samardzija, instead of likely dealing him. The "parallel fronts" rebuild we were promised would look a little more, well, parallel.
Yes, the Cubs coulda been contenders!
In the real world, the Cubs' world, they'll settle for an upset win over the Mayweather of baseball.