Yankees Drop Season Opener, Tanaka Wildly Ineffective

Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports
Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports /

The Yankees season got off to a disappointing start with a loss to the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field by a score of 7-3.

Yankees ace, Masahiro Tanaka, who looked like he was headed to the Cy Young he missed by a hair in 2016 in the spring, got off to an inauspicious start, taking 23 pitches to get out of the first inning, and not before three runs crossed the plate for the Rays.

Tanaka struggled with a splitter that floated and stayed flat, often missing wildly outside to right-handed batters.

Logan Morrison did most of the damage with a sharp single that drove in two giving Tampa a 3-0 lead. Tanaka did not top 91 on the gun in the inning. Morrison later added a two-run blast off Tanaka, who didi not seem like he had shaken off his last start against the Rays when he surrendered four home runs and probably lost the ERA title on the same day because of it.

Aaron Judge delivered a one-out double to left in the second inning to drive in one run and Ronald Torreyes played small ball with a soft roller to the right side scoring another that brought the Yankees back to within one.

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Tanaka gave those runs right back, though, as he continued to struggle in the bottom of the second when Yankees nemesis Evan Longoria hit a screamer just over the left field wall on an 87mph splitter with one man on base.

From there, things went from bad to worse for both the Yankees and Tanaka, who continued to miss home plate by more than a foot and, at times did not appear to be on the same page with his catcher, Gary Sanchez.

A clearly shaken Tanaka was taken out of the game by Joe Girardi with two out in the bottom of the third, having thrown almost 70 pitches with the Yankees now running a five-run deficit 7-2.

Chris Archer, who somehow managed to lose 19 games last season and was the subject of ongoing trade rumors during the winter, made the start for the Rays. Archer proved to be sufficient enough to tame the newly revamped Yankees lineup.

Despite being behind the entire game, the team continued to play spirited, though not productive, baseball. The lineup gives the impression that it is capable of coming back in games like the one they ran into today, but on this day they made Archer look like he was the one going for the Cy Young.

Magically, 24-9 in the spring quickly turns into 0-1 in the regular season.

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Didi Gregorius was at the game, and he reported that he could begin light to moderate baseball activity as soon as the end of this week. Sounding like he’s more ready to get going than the Yankees want him to be at this stage, he could be in uniform the first week of May if everything breaks right.

Adam Warren got his first taste of the new season as one of two long relievers in the bullpen, pitching effectively and holding the Rays at bay after Tanaka faltered.

Greg Bird was not charged with an error on a ball he probably should have handled that didn’t help Tanaka in the third inning. Gary Sanchez made a throwing error on a ball bounced in front of the plate.

Starlin Castro got off to a good start with three consecutive base hits.

Chase Headley, with the shift on, laid down a base hit bunt in the seventh inning that (hopefully) starts a trend to kill the strategy. Headley has three hits for the day.

The Yankees loaded the bases for Gary Sanchez in the seventh as Archer dialed it up to 96 getting Sanchez on a ground ball to short on his 107th and final pitch of his outing. Sanchez went 0-5 in the game.

The Rays continue to defy logic that Tampa is a major league city with an Opening Day crowd that left half the ballpark empty.

The Yankees send CC Sabathia to the mound on Tuesday after an off day tomorrow to meet the Rays in an afternoon contest.