Tanaka Falters in Opening Day Start

Bronx, NY—Less than 15 months ago, Masahiro Tanaka signed his first major league contract with the New York Yankees. On April 6, 2015, he was the opening game starter for the Yanks. His rapid rise toward “ace” status began almost immediately upon his debut for the Yankees last year. He was moving toward winning the Rookie-of-the-Year Award and was also a favorite for the Cy Young Award in the American League by his starting effective and consistent performances on the mound.

His chances for this unique glory ended with an elbow tear that placed him on the disabled list from July 9 through September 20 during which he missed 65 of his team’s games.

The change in his rate of success has been dramatic. He pitched at least six innings of each of his first 18 starts in the majors. Since h8is return from the DL he has not pitched more than 5.1 innings in each of his three starts. He allowed three earned runs or less in his first 16 major league starting assignments. He has permitted at least four earned runs in four of his last five starts.

Tanakia gave up- a single only in the first two innings on Opening Day. He struck out three of the first four batters he faced. After the game, he said, “In the first and second inning I pitched well.”

The third inning caused his loss. Four of the first five batters reached base. Both he and Yankee skipper reached the same conclusion for the damage. Girardi claimed, “He [Tanaka] got a bad count. That’s what affected him. He got behind and made mistakes.” The starting pitcher concurred with his manager’s assessment, “I was in a bad count and obviously, that’s going to give an advantage to the batters. [I was] just basically missing the spots.” He walked only 21 in 20 starts in 2014 for the Yankees.

In the fourth, Tanaka struck out the side, but surrendered a single and walked one batter.

Both the pitcher and his manager are hopeful for his future despite the bad outing. Girardi was optimistic as usual, “It’s one game; I won’t make too much out of it.” Tanaka surmised, “I don’t look at today’s results as all bad, but I’m a little bit upset.”

The Yankees and Blue Jays resume the series on Wednesday evening Michael Pineda starting for the Yankees and former Met R.A. Dickey starting for the Jays.


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