One down, 23 to go. On a night in which Masahiro Tanaka was slated to make his first ever major league start, things got off to a rocky beginning for the Yankees’ $155 million man. After the Yankees had jumped out to a 2-0 lead over the Toronto Blue Jays in the top of the first courtesy of Carlos Beltran and Mark Teixeira, Tanaka left a pitch up, in the bottom half of the inning, that ended up in the seats as a lead-off home run for former Yankee, Melky Cabrera.
In the second, Tanaka surrendered a two-run single to Jonathan Diaz, that put the Blue Jays ahead 3-2. However, it was all smooth sailing from there. After giving up the two-run single, Tanaka was as good as advertised, going on to retire 16 of the last 18 batters that he faced, The final line on Tanaka: 7.0 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 2 ER, 0 BB, 8 SO. Tanaka currently has a 2.57 ERA. Not bad for his first start in the big leagues.
This game also included just about everything you could possibly see in a baseball game. It included so much in fact, it even included a fan running onto the field in the sixth! In the bottom of the second inning, Mark Teixeira exited the game with what appeared to be an injured hamstring. The Yankees later confirmed it was indeed a strained hammy. That is not good news for a team that is already so thin in the infield.
Brian Roberts, who was slated to have the day off, came into the game at second, and Kelly Johnson, who was at third, took over at first. Blue Jays’ starter Dustin McGowan didn’t fair nearly as well as Tanaka. In the top of the third, Ichiro Suzuki was called out on a close play when he tried to beat out a grounder. The call was the third out of the inning. However, manger Joe Girardi decided to use his first challenge of the season. Upon review, it was determined that Ichiro was indeed safe, which allowed the inning to continue, and give rookie Yangervis Solarte an at-bat. Solarte, after going 3-for-3 with an RBI in his first ever start the previous night, continued to swing a hot bat, doubling to drive in Roberts and Ichiro, to put the Yankees back ahead 4-3.
In the fourth, Brian McCann singled to left, scoring Carlos Beltran and Jacoby Ellsbury, who had an absolutely terrific night, going 3-for-4 with a walk, while scoring 2 runs, and adding 2 stolen bases. He also made a terrific sliding catch late in the game as well. In the eighth, Brett Gardner had an RBI single, to increase the Yankees’ lead to 6-3. In the ninth, Solarte added another hit, driving a booming RBI double into center, which scored Ichiro, who added three hits of his own, to give the Yankees a comfortable lead of 7-3.
Dean Anna, appearing in his first major league game, and starting at shortstop for Derek Jeter, who was getting a day off, had his first major league hit in the ninth as well. Dellin Betances, who was so impressive for the Yankees this spring, just couldn’t find his command tonight, so after a shaky eighth inning, when he surrendered a lead-off walk on four pitches in the bottom of the ninth, Girardi wasn’t having anymore of it. He called upon closer David Robertson (although it wasn’t a save situation), to nail down the game, and Robertson did just that, retiring the side 1-2-3, including the third out, when Brett Gardner made a sliding grab in foul territory to end the game, and seal a 7-3 victory for the Bombers.
Although the Yankees through four games have yet to display the power everyone thought they would by have now, they’ve been able to get big hits with RISP, which is key to winning games. The win improved the Yankees to 2-2 on the season, and dropped the Jays to 1-3. The Yankees play the second game of the series tomorrow afternoon at 1 P.M. Michael Pineda, who is coming off winning the Yankees’ fifth starter competition this spring, will be making his first major league appearance for the Yanks since being acquired by them over two years ago.