If so, it was a solid start on both counts Tuesday night, as the Yankees walloped the woeful Detroit Tigers, 13-4.
Gary Sanchez, replacing the struggling Aaron Judge in the No. 3 spot in the lineup, hit two homers — including a mammoth 493-foot blast — and Judge, batting cleanup, ended his strikeout streak at 37 consecutive games as the Yankees remained four and a half games behind the Red Sox.
Quietly, Tanaka did his part with an efficient, if not dynamic, effort. In seven innings, he allowed three runs on six hits and no walks, and struck out four. Two of the runs came on a seventh-inning homer by Nick Castellanos.
Asked if he saw any signs that Tanaka might be resembling his old ace-like form, Manager Joe Girardi could only say, “I wish I knew.”
At the start of the season, it seemed a good bet that Tanaka, who is due to make $22 million each of the next two seasons and $23 million in 2020, the final year of his contract, would exercise his opt-out in search of a longer…