LAKELAND, Fla. -- Masahiro Tanaka is not one to boast about his performances, preferring to maintain the mindset that there is always more work to be done. It has been suggested that he might highlight those faults even in a no-hitter, which is exactly what happened on Friday afternoon.
Tanaka continued his superb spring with another 4 1/3 strong innings against the Tigers at Publix Field at Joker Marchant Stadium, setting the tone for a 3-0 win in which three Yankees pitchers no-hit Detroit. The no-hitter was New York's first -- that wasn't shortened by rain -- during Spring Training since 1983.
"I felt that I wasn't at my best, but considering that, I still was able to put up some zeros," Tanaka said through an interpreter. "That part, I was satisfied with."
With the effort, the 28-year-old Tanaka ran his Grapefruit League total to 13 1/3 scoreless frames. Three of Tanaka's four starts have come against the Tigers, who have yet to manage a hit against him in those 10 1/3 innings.
"He's either been really good against us, or we've been really bad against him, some combination," Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said. "He looked good today. He looked like he had a lot of movement today."
The Yankees' ace may claim to only be "somewhat" pleased, saying that he needs to improve the command of his slider and cut fastball, but his teammates have plenty to be happy about as Tanaka prepares for his Opening Day assignment against the Rays on April 2 at Tropicana Field.
"He threw a lot of pitches in the first inning, but after that, he made the adjustments, and he was very good today," catcher Gary Sanchez said through an interpreter. "I would say the sharpness of the pitches got better. The sinker was better and the same for the slider. As the game went on, he got better."
Tanaka has tallied 19 strikeouts this spring, including six on Friday. The only three hits he has permitted came on March 5 against the Pirates, and he issued his only two walks of Grapefruit League play on Friday. In his last two starts, opposing hitters are 0-for-25.
"I feel like I've been pitching well this Spring Training. On top of that, the results have been there," Tanaka said. "I think everything is going on the right track for me."
It has appeared to be a stress-free exhibition slate for Tanaka, who set career highs in wins (14), innings (199 2/3), starts (31) and strikeouts (165) last season. Sanchez said that Tanaka's splitter is the key to his success, and manager Joe Girardi said that the pitch looks as sharp as it has ever been.
"My take on that is, I felt my splitter was good going down toward the end of last season," Tanaka said. "We had that offseason in-between, but I think I was able to keep the good feeling of the splitter from then up to now."
Tanaka is more than a year removed from arthroscopic surgery to remove a bone spur from his pitching elbow, which stalled him last spring. He also has long since put to rest concerns about his ability to continue pitching with a partially torn ulnar collateral ligament.
"His stuff has just been really, really good in Spring Training," Girardi said. "Like we said, we thought he was further ahead this spring."
Bryan Hoch has covered the Yankees for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and on Facebook. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.