Yusei Kikuchi made a point of watching Masahiro Tanaka growing up in Japan, whether he was pitching in his home country or once Tanaka got to the majors with the Yankees.
It’s understandable that Kikuchi is quite excited about pitching against Tanaka on Tuesday night when the Mariners host New York.
“I was very pumped to face a team like this,” Kikuchi said through an interpreter Monday. “Also on top of that, it’s Mr. Tanaka on the other side. It’s going to be a very special game and moment for me.”
It will be the first meeting on the mound between the Japanese stars. Tanaka is the established pitcher and two-time All-Star on his way to pitching in the postseason for the fourth time. Kikuchi is still making the adjustment to the majors in his first year in Seattle, a season filled with ups and downs.
Kikuchi (5-8, 5.19 ERA) is coming in on a high after throwing a two-hitter against Toronto on Aug. 18.
“He’s a guy that came to the states before me and put up a lot of good numbers,” Kikuchi said. “To everyone back home, I want to show him a really good matchup and go out there and compete for my team and show the fans what we are made of.”
Tanaka has been in enough big moments that while he acknowledged the significance of Tuesday, it was in the context of New York being in the middle of a pennant race and Seattle in the midst of a rebuild. Tanaka (9-7, 4.68) has won two of his past three decisions but lost to the A’s in his last time outing.
“I’m not sure how the magnitude of it is. I think it might be different from say; I think it’s all different,” Tanaka said. “But say I’m going against (Yu) Darvish, if I’m going against (Kenta) Maeda or if I’m going against Kikuchi. It’s kind of hard to say because I think it’s perceived a little bit differently against who I’m pitching against.”
Padres 4, Dodgers 3: Host San Diego rallied for three runs in the sixth off the Dodgers’ Dustin May, with Manny Machado’s groundout scoring Josh Naylor for the go-ahead run.
Rockies 3, Braves 1: Ryan McMahon hit a two-run homer in the ninth to lift host Colorado over Atlanta. McMahon hit a 1-1 fastball from former A’s lefty Jerry Blevins just over the scoreboard in right field for the second game-ending homer of his career. Nolan Arenado started the inning with a walk off Anthony Swarzak.
Phillies 6, Pirates 5: Sean Rodriguez lined a home run leading off the bottom of the 11th inning to lift Philadelphia past Pittsburgh. Josh Bell hit a solo homer off Philadelphia closer Hector Neris to tie it 5-5 in the ninth after Corey Dickerson hit a two-run shot against his former team in the eighth to give the Phillies a one-run lead.
Cardinals 12, Brewers 2: Marcell Ozuna’s bases-loaded double keyed a six-run second inning and surging St. Louis routed host Milwaukee. The Cardinals, who have won five straight, jumped on starter Gio Gonzalez for eight runs in the first two innings.
Reds 6, Marlins 3: Sonny Gray pitched six effective innings, and Freddy Galvis drove in four runs for visiting Cincinnati. Gray walked five but limited Miami to two runs and four hits.
Yankees 5, Mariners 4: Rookie Mike Ford homered twice and Gleyber Torres added a solo shot for visiting New York.
This post was originally posted at https://www.sfgate.com/sports/article/Mariners-Yusei-Kikuchi-pumped-to-face-14380516.php.