New York Yankees pitcher Masahiro Tanaka, the $155 million dollar Japanese import brought in to bolster the rotation, shrugged off early jitters and a first inning home run to notch his first career MLB victory last night.
Tanaka took the mound with an early 2-0 lead, but looked nervous when he delivered his third pitch to former New York Yankees outfielder, and current Blue Jay, Melky Cabrera. The dinger jumped off Cabrera’s bat and over the wall at the Rogers Centre last night and, just like that, the Masahiro debut got off to a rocky start.
According to an article in the NY Daily News, Tanaka wasn’t comfortable from the outset:
“I was nervous before going into the game. Once I was up on the mound, I felt that I really couldn’t focus myself into the game at the beginning.”
Things didn’t get any better for Masahiro in the second inning as the Blue Jays tacked on two more runs, but after that initial bump in the road, Tanaka looked comfortable the rest of the way. Tanaka allowed three runs total, two earned, six hits, eight strikeouts while giving up an impressive zero walks in six innings.
“I was missing some spots earlier in the game but as the game progressed, I think I was getting better,” Tanaka told reporters through his translator after the game.
In a report on ESPN.com following the game, Masahiro’s debut impressed his fellow major leaguers including Blue Jays manager John Gibbons, who called Tanaka “the real deal.”
Tanaka’s signing with the Yankees is yet another by an American based team that will immediately have ripples both in the US and internationally. According to the NY Daily News, the effect of the Masahiro spotlight will be felt by all clubs who face the 25-year old phenom:
“If you think Tanaka is purely a story in New York and Japan, think again. On the day his team was playing in its home opener, Gibbons answered as many questions about Tanaka during his pregame media session as he did about his entire roster.”
Girardi went on to echo that thought, reassuring fans that the Yankees made the right move acquiring Tanaka:
“You think about what he’s had to deal with all spring training, the attention that’s been on him: the covers of magazines, everywhere he goes, people want to know when’s he pitching. I think he’s handled it great.”
Masahiro Tanaka will pitch again next week as the New York Yankees travel back to New York for their home opener.