Last night we witnessed the beginning of a new era for the New York Yankees. Masahiro Tanaka made his major league debut in Toronto against the Blue Jays. After a shaky start, the most expensive Japanese free agent in major league history certainly didn’t disappoint. He got himself a win, the bats woke up a bit and the Yankees got back to .500. Let’s talk about it!
Tanaka got a bit of a rude welcome from former Yankee Melky Cabrera, who homered on a high splitter to lead off the game for the Jays. Welcome to the big leagues, buddy. In the second inning, Tanaka struggled more, giving up back to back one out singles to Dioner Navarro and Brett Lawrie. Ryan Goins then reached on an error by Mark Teixeira (his second error of the year already), and Tanaka was in big trouble. The next batter, the ninth place hitter Jonathan Diaz, slapped a two run single through the hole between third and short, and the Yankees saw a 2-1 lead turn into a 3-2 deficit.
Fortunately, that was be the last run that Tanaka would give up. In fact, he would only give up a double and a single to Edwin Encarnacion the rest of the way. Overall, Tanaka ended up pitching 7 innings on 97 pitches, allowing 3 runs (2 earned) on 6 hits and striking out 8 Jays with 0 walks. After the rough start, with every eye in New York and Japan upon him, he showed some very good poise, settled down and got the job done. There must have been an incredible amount of pressure on him before this start, and I was impressed. If he can go out and give up 2 earned runs through seven innings every time out, it’s gonna be a great year.
The offense was great behind Tanaka tonight, which I’m sure helped settle him down a lot. The Yankees scored seven runs and pounded out 15 hits; highlighted by 3 hits (2 doubles) and 2 steals from Jacoby Ellsbury, 3 more hits from Ichiro Suzuki (starting in place of a struggling Alfonso Soriano) and 2 hits each from Brett Gardner (add a steal too) Kelly Johnson (including a triple) and the great Yangervis Solarte, who hit two doubles and drove in three runs. Solarte had, by far, the biggest hit of the night. After Girardi successfully challenged a play on which Ichiro was called out on first on a slow chopper despite being safe, Solarte his a long two-out double to right-center. At the time, the Yankees were down 3-2, and the hit put them up 4-3. I don’t think Solarte’s going to be hitting this much all year long, but it sure has been fun so far early this year. Gotta love the story, and the guy seems like a good dude. Dean Anna even had his first big league hit in this one, as he got the start so that Girardi could rest Derek Jeter on the turf.
There was one bit of bad news, however, as Teixeira left the game in the bottom of the second with a strained hamstring. He has not had any tests performed on the injury, and Girardi said on the post game that there are no tests planned until Monday (if they’re even needed). This means the injury might not be all that bad, although there are no guarantees with hamstring injuries. It’s a shame, because Teixeira spent all off-season making sure his wrist was OK, and now this happens. Also, the Yankees don’t really have any other real first basemen, which means Johnson will probably slide over there and Solarte will continue to play. Hopefully Tex isn’t out too long.
Featured image courtesy of: Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images
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