Rangers History Today: A Look Back at Tanana

On this date, Frank Tanana won his first game of the season in relief of Danny Darwin, which gives us a chance to dive into Tanana's career.
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On this date in Texas Rangers history, Frank Tanana won his first game of the season as the Rangers defeated the New York Yankees in Old Yankee Stadium.

Back on May 10, 1983, the Rangers beat the Yankees, 4-2. Danny Darwin started the game for the Rangers but wasn’t able to get out of the fourth inning. Tanana came on in relief, threw more than four innings of scoreless relief, and then handed the ball to Odell Jones, who notched his fourth save of the season.

The Rangers had just four hits in the game, but they maximized all of them into four runs.

Tanana’s victory gives us the chance to examine his career in full. Tanana was a first-round pick of the California Angels in 1971 and quickly got to the Major Leagues, where he combined with Nolan Ryan to create one of the more potent 1-2 punches in the American League. 

At one time, Angels fans lived by the mantra, ‘Tanana and Ryan and two days of cryin.’ In 1975, he became the first left-handed pitcher to record at least 17 strikeouts in a game (oddly enough against the Rangers). He ultimately made three All-Star Game appearances for the Angels in 1976, 1977, and 1978.

With the Angels, he went 102-78, but they traded him to Boston before the 1981 season. After that season, Tanana hit free agency and the Rangers signed him to anchor their rotation. But he actually started as a long reliever, and he never quite became the front-line starter the Rangers were hoping for (though he went 15-15 in 1984). 

Tanana went 31-49 for the Rangers in four seasons, and he ended up in Detroit midway through the 1985 season via trade.

Going to the Tigers meant going home for the Detroit native. Tanana rejuvenated his career with the Tigers, where he won 10 or more games for eight of the nine seasons he was in Motown, before he wrapped up his 21-year career with the New York Mets and the Yankees in 1993.

Tanana won 240 games for his career, but his time in Texas was, all things considered, the low point of his career.

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