It's been a remarkable first half for Masahiro Tanaka, who has already emerged as one of baseball's best pitchers.
After being named to the All-Star team, Tanaka and the visiting New York Yankees try to stay hot Tuesday night against the Cleveland Indians.
While he may not get a chance to pitch at next Tuesday's Midsummer Classic due to scheduling, Tanaka (12-3, 2.27 ERA) is looking forward to partaking in the festivities alongside teammates Derek Jeter and Dellin Betances. The Japanese sensation, leading the majors in wins, is one of 24 foreign-born players to earn a nod.
"It's obviously an event that not everybody can be a part of. I'm very excited to get this opportunity," he told MLB's official website through an interpreter. "To be part of it and to be able to meet with some of the best pitchers in the major leagues, that's going to be a great experience for me. If there's a chance, I'd definitely like to be able to talk with some of them and maybe pick their brains."
Tanaka had dropped back-to-back starts while receiving a combined run of support before earning the win in Thursday's 7-4 victory at Minnesota. The right-hander allowed season highs of four earned runs and nine hits over seven innings while striking out a season-low three.
"They're not going to be perfect every time," manager Joe Girardi said. "He's been about as consistent as you can be as a starting pitcher. He just wasn't quite as sharp."
The Yankees (45-43) had dropped a season-worst five straight and nine of 11 before winning four of five. Brian McCann, Brett Gardner and Ichiro Suzuki all collected three hits in Monday's series-opening 5-3 victory.
New York has won five straight and 12 of 14 against the Indians, going 26-8 in the series dating to 2009.
Cleveland (43-45) has lost five of seven at home after winning 11 of its previous 12. Nick Swisher and Yan Gomes both homered Monday but the Indians were otherwise held in check. Gomes is batting .289 with four homers and 10 RBIs over his last 10 games.
Trevor Bauer (2-4, 4.42) gets the ball for the Indians looking to snap a three-start winless stretch, during which he's been backed by a combined five runs of support. The right-hander yielded three runs and six hits in 5 2-3 innings but didn't receive a decision in Wednesday's 5-4 road win over the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Bauer is 2-1 with a 3.48 ERA at home, nearly two runs lower than his road mark of 5.46. He allowed three runs - two earned - over 6 1-3 innings in his only appearance against the Yankees, a 7-0 home loss May 13, 2013.
This marks Tanaka's first appearance versus Cleveland.
Carlos Beltran missed Monday's win with swelling behind his right knee, leaving his status for Tuesday unknown. He's hitting .190 on the road, going 3 for his last 22.
Jeter, meanwhile, is batting .362 over a 12-game stretch away from home. He's a career .338 hitter against Cleveland, his highest mark against any AL club.
Indians leadoff hitter Michael Bourn will miss at least three weeks with a strained left hamstring.