"I felt that it was very obvious that I had good innings and I had bad innings out there today," Tanaka said through interpreter Shingo Horie.
"The innings that I thought were good, I think I had first strikes a lot. But, on the other hand, the innings that I gave up runs, I think it was the other way around -- starting out ball, ball."
The Twins scored early against Tanaka, as Brian Dozier doubled on the second pitch of the game, and later came around to score on a groundout by Joe Mauer.
But Tanaka settled down from there, as the Twins didn't score again until the sixth, after the Yankees had already scored four times in the fourth. Tanaka ran into trouble in the sixth, as Kurt Suzuki lined a leadoff single back up the middle before Tanana hit Josh Willingham with a pitch with one out.
"He did alright," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "I've seen him sharper. I thought the first three innings he struggled a little bit with his command, fourth and fifth he got it back, and sixth inning he gave up a couple of runs. But, overall, I was pleased because I didn't think he had his great stuff today but he held them down.
Jason Kubel followed with an RBI double to right field before Trevor Plouffe brought home a run on an RBI groundout. Tanaka was then removed from the game in favor of left-hander Fred Lewis, who was able to strand Kubel and get out of the jam.
The Yankees were also helped by instant replay in the third, when Aaron Hicks was ruled safe at second base on a stolen-base attempt. But the play was challenged by Girardi and overturned. It turned out to be a big play, as the Twins ended up loading the bases that inning, but Tanaka was able to get out of it unscathed by getting Willingham to fly out to the warning track in left for the final out of the inning.
Right-hander Kevin Correia started for the Twins, and was hurt by a four-run fourth inning by the Yankees, who loaded the bases with one out. The first run scored on a wild pitch by Correia, before Scott Sizemore added a two-run single to right. Zelous Wheeler brought home the fourth run with an RBI double.
Correia, making his third Grapefruit League start, gave up four runs on six hits over six innings with one strikeout.
"Everything felt good today," said Correia, who threw 81 pitches. "I got to the pitch count we set out to. I got my work in today. Nothing out of the ordinary. I'm progressing as planned, and ready to go."
Right-hander Anthony Swarzak pitched in relief of Correia, and allowed an RBI single to Roybell Herrera in the seventh.
Up next: Right-hander Michael Pineda is scheduled to start Sunday when the Yankees host the Blue Jays at 1:05 p.m. ET, which is available on MLB.TV. In three starts this spring, Pineda is 2-0. He has not allowed a run in nine combined innings, giving up eight hits with one walk and 14 strikeouts. Left-hander Mark Buehrle is scheduled to start for Toronto.