Today marked the first game of what we all hope is Masahiro Tanaka’s illustrious career. There was a lot of fanfare for this game and Tanaka delivered a pretty good performance. Sure fans would have wanted a shutout, but this was a very good start. My overall impression of Tanaka is that he is a very composed pitcher. He didn’t let a rocky first three innings ruin his game, and was able to rebound to pitch 4 more excellent innings, he faced the minimum three batters in each of his last 4 innings.
Overall Tanaka pitched seven innings, allowed two earned runs, 6 hits and no walks. He also struck out 8 batters, including Jose Buatista (twice) and Edwin Encarnacion.
The fact that he had such a good night may shock people that only watched the first few innings. The Yankees put Tanaka in a good position by scoring two runs in the first, but this lead quickly evaporated. Jacoby Ellsbury ignited the Yankee offense by leading off with a double. Brett Gardner came up next and hit a single and Carlos Beltran followed suit by knocking in the game’s first run. Gardner advanced to third on a flyout off the bat of Brian Mccann, and was knocked home by Mark Teixeira. Kelly Johnson loaded the bases with a single of his own, but Ichiro Suzuki, and Yangervis Solarte failed to drive him home.
I really like the top of this lineup and feel that the combination of Gardner, and Ellsbury at the top of this lineup really works well. They probably should have scored more runs, but they did a good job of taking some pressure off Tanaka and giving him a lead.
Despite the lead Tanaka still seemed a bit nervous, as he started the game in the worse way possible by allowing Melky Cabrera to hit a homer to right. This made the score 2-1. But he really did a nice job of brushing off the homer, and retiring Colby Rasmus on a grounder, and striking out the next two batters (Buatista, and Encarnacion).
Tanaka’s struggles truly didn’t start until the next inning, as he gave up back-to-back one out singles to Dioner Navarro and Brett Lawrie. On the next play Ryan Goins hit an easy ground to Tiex which he threw to second in an attempt to get a double-play. However Lawrie went in hard at second and Tiex’s throw found its way to the outfield. This error led to bases loaded one out situation. The next batter was Jonathan Diaz, who knocked in two runs with a ground ball single. One of the runs was unearned. Tanaka rebounded by striking out the next two batters but the damage was done; the Yankees were trailing 3-2 after two innings.
The Yankees lost more than the lead. Teixeira had to leave the game with a hamstring injury. We don’t have a lot of info at the moment, but as soon as more info is available we will update you on the situation.
The Yankees would get the lead back rather quickly as Solarte had a RBI double in the third. Both Ichiro and Roberts scored on the play, giving the Yankees a 4-3 lead. They ended up scoring three more runs in the game. Mccann had an opposite field RBI single in the 4th, Gardner had a RBI single in the 8th, and Solarte had the games last RBI in the 9th, which came off a RBI double.
The team had 5 extra base hits today: Solarte and Ellsbury had two doubles in the game, and Kelly Johnson had a triple. Overall I was very pleased with how the team looked at the plate. They all seemed to have good at-bats and worked the count when they had to. Mccannn’s hit was significant because it was an opposite field hit, something he isn’t known for.
Besides Tanaka the Yankees used three other pitchers. Matt Thornton faced two batters in the 8th and got two quick outs versus Melky and Rasmus. Betances came in to face the righty Bautista and immediately walked him. Betances control was very bad today, but that’s going to happen from time –to-time. He was sent out to start the 9th but walked his second batter of the game. This led to Joe taking him out, and putting in David Robertson. Robertson had a very easy inning, and retired all three batters he faced.
Overall, this was a very exciting Yankee game. This team is very different from past Yankee teams. They are quicker than most teams, and that makes up for their lack of power. The team will need to hit for power eventually, but it’s nice to have this extra element. After today’s game Yankee fans will finally understand why Ellsbury was necessary.
Tomorrow’s start is also an important one, as it will Michael Pineda’s first major league start. The Jays are a good test for these pitchers, and we can only hope that Pineda does as well as Tanaka did.