Toronto Blue Jays slugger Melky Cabrera welcomed New York Yankees pitcher Masahiro Tanaka with a first pitch home run. Tanaka, obviously shocked by the home run, was able to retire the next three batters.
It would take another inning for the pitcher to settle down and become a major factor in the Yankees 7-3 win over the Blue Jays. In the first inning it may have been nerves or just a bad release. The last thing any pitcher wants to do is float a 86-mph pitch over the middle of the plate with a hitter like Cabrera at the plate. The ball sailed over the right field fence.
That was Tanaka’s only major mistake in the Major League debut. After giving up the home run, the Japanese pitcher struck out two of the next three batters. In the second inning Tanaka did allow two more runs to give the Blue Jays a 3-2 lead. Those runs were not entirely the fault of Tanaka.
After being welcomed to the big leagues by a home run the New York Yankees were able to settle down Masahiro Tanaka and get out of the first inning. In the second inning the Blue Jays came at Tanaka with ground balls. The Blue Jays had three well hit singles in the second and capitalized on a throwing error by Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira.
After the throwing error by Teixeira, Cabrera stepped to the plate again. Instead of sending another ball out of the park, the Blue Jays’ slugger sent a foul ball down the first base line that Teixeira backhanded. The first baseman injured his right hamstring and had to leave the game.
After giving up three runs and the loss of the starting third baseman, Tanaka showed the Yankees faithful that the team made a good decision signing the young pitcher to a seven-year, $155 million contract. At one point in the game, Tanaka retired 12 batters in a row. The pitcher threw 97 pitches over 7 innings and gave up a total of six hits.
The array of pitches the right hander has available is impressive. Though the Blue Jays were able to hit the youngster in the first two innings, things started to get much better on the mound for the Yankees.
One pitch did get away from Tanaka in the third and the Blue Jays Edwin Encarnacion tried to capitalize on it. Toronto fans thought the fast ball down the middle of the plate was going to leave the park, but it hit off the fence for a double instead. That seemed to be the pitch that turned things around for the Yankees starting pitcher.
Tanaka used 7 pitches in the rookies first outing. The go to out pitch was a very nasty splitter. Tanaka would entice hitters with this pitch that looked like a fast ball down the center of the plate before the bottom fell out of the ball. The pitch would drop well below where the hitters thought it was going to cross the plate at.
In reality it was not to surprising to many that New York Yankees Masahiro Tanaka was welcomed to the MLB with a home run. The pitcher has found himself under a enormous amount of pressure. The Japanese star is expected to perform well for the Yankees for the amount of money the team invested in the pitcher. It was good for Tanaka to have his debut on the road in Toronto. This should put him at ease when he walks to the mound in New York for the first time. The pitcher is sure to put on a good show for the Yankees fans this season.
Commentary by Carl Auer