Yankees Game 4: Tanaka good in MLB debut

(Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)

(Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)

New York Yankees 7 — Toronto Blue Jays 3

Tonight was a day much-anticipated as Masahiro Tanaka made his first regular season start against the Toronto Blue Jays. But starting on the road means the offense comes first and they would help out the Japanese import. Starting the game against Blue Jays starter Dustin McGowan was Jacoby Ellsbury who started the game with a double, his first hit as a Yankee, to get the game started strong. Brett Gardner would hit a single to left field and Carlos Beltran would follow with a single of his own.

Three batters in and the Yankees had a one-run lead. Yes, it can happen that fast.

Brian McCann would hit a deep fly out to center field that would allow Gardner to advance to third base. Mark Teixeira would continue the hard hits with a base hit to right field to score Gardner. Kelly Johnson would hit a single to load the bases but Ichiro Suzuki and Yangervis Solarte would strand the bases loaded. Two runs from eight batters is not ideal but the offense put together numerous quality at-bats with good contact. Masahiro Tanaka had a two-run lead cushion to ease into the majors.

A familiar face would be a rude welcoming committee.

With three pitches, former Yankees fan favorite Melky Cabrera would cut the two-run lead in half when he led off the bottom half of the first inning with a solo home run to quell initial talks of a dominant Tanaka. The experience Tanaka had from his time in Japan likely helped him as he settled down and responded with a ground out and two strikeouts, one of Jose Bautista and one of Edwin Encarnacion.

Masahiro Tanaka would have a struggling second inning that could have been a factor of his defense too. After one out, Tanaka would give up two consecutive singles and a throwing error by Mark Teixeira for a force at second would load the bases. Shortstop Jonathan Diaz would hit a single to left field and score two runs. During this at-bat, Mark Teixeira would field a foul ball and tweaked his right hamstring, forcing him to exit the game. Results of the injury would be announced.

In the third inning, the challenge feature of the league would benefit the Yankees in a big way. With one on and two outs, Ichiro Suzuki hit a vintage infield ground ball that would require some quick work on a bang-bang play at first base that would be initially ruled out. Joe Girardi would challenge the call and it was overturned, Ichiro was safe at first base. The star of the 2014 Yankees, Yangervis Solarte would make the most of the moment with a booming double to center field, scoring two runs, the second being Ichiro. The Yankees reclaimed a 4-3 lead.

Tanaka would settle down and get the next eight batters before a deflected infield single in the sixth inning ended that streak. Tanaka would respond nicely by generating a double play and ending that inning quickly. In the seventh inning, Tanaka’s last inning of the night, he would get two strikeouts and a harmless fly out.

In seven innings, Masahiro Tanaka allowed three runs, two earned, on six hits while walking none and striking out eight on 97 pitches.

The Yankees would get some insurance runs in the eighth and ninth inning from Brett Gardner and Yangervis Solarte but the bullpen would be relatively strong tonight. Lefty Matt Thornton would get the two batters he faced out and Dellin Betances would take over. He would walk the first batter before getting a force out to end the eighth inning. With the save out of reach, Betances would get an opportunity at a save but like his first batter faced, his mechanics eluded him in this outing. With a 6’8″ frame, mechanics are crucial for consistency. Tonight wasn’t his night and David Robertson would be called on to finish off the game. 11 pitches later and tthe Yankees were celebrating their second win of the season.

The Yankees would combine for 16 hits. With sparkling defense, three line-to-line base hits and two definitive stolen bases, Jacoby Ellsbury practically stole the show from Masahiro Tanaka. Money well spent.

 

Win – Masahiro Tanaka (1-0)

Loss – Dustin McGowan (0-1)

 

Notables

Yankees

*Yangervis Solarte – 2 for 5, 2 2B, 3 RBI (4)

*Jacoby Ellsbury – 3 for 4, 2 R, BB, 2 2B

Blue Jays

*Jonathan Diaz – 1 for 3, 2 RBI (3)

*Melky Cabrera – 1 for 4, R, Solo Home Run (1) in the 1st, RBI (1)

 

Current Yankees Record: 2-2

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Yankees fan for most of my life. Has always had a love for baseball, whether it be playing it, watching it, reading about it, or writing about it. Tweet me: @adakannayr