CLEVELAND — In answering a question Tuesday night about another disappointing outing, Masahiro Tanaka didn’t give a direct answer.
“I do understand the reason why I was struggling today but it’s really difficult for me to tell you what that was,” Tanaka said, almost cryptically, through his translator.
Perhaps things came into better focus Wednesday afternoon when the Yankees placed the rookie phenom on the 15-day disabled list with right elbow inflammation.
Tanaka was sent back to New York for an MRI on his elbow, a source confirmed. The Post first reported the news. Tanaka, 25, signed a seven-year, $155 million contract with the Yankees in January after pitching in Japan for seven seasons.
Tanaka (12-4, 2.51 ERA) lost his third start in four outings Tuesday, allowing a season-high five runs and 10 hits over 6 2/3 innings of a 5-3 loss to the Indians.
He allowed two homers, including a two-run blast by Nick Swisher in the sixth inning that gave the Indians a 4-3 lead. Michael Brantley added a solo homer in the seventh when Tanaka was pulled.
Catcher Brian McCann said he “didn’t notice anything” with Tanaka Tuesday night that would suggest an injury but “his pitches didn’t have the sharp action” as before.
Tanaka was selected to the American League All-Star team and he leads the major leagues with 12 wins.
Hiroki Kuroda has the second-most wins on the Yankees’ staff with six. “It goes without saying how important (Tanaka’s) been,” Derek Jeter said. “He’s been our go-to guy.”