Saturday, April 5, 2014

Tanaka Time!

The Mets beat the Cincinnati Reds tonight, 4-3, in front of a massive crowd at Citi Field.

Okay, I lied. Yes, they did win, and I got the opponent, the score and the ballpark right. The crowd wasn't massive. It was listed as 35,845, but photos taken during the game suggest that it was significantly less.

Nevertheless, the Men of Flushing got their first win of the season. Took 'em 4 games. Not too bad, but not good.


Moving on to the major-league team from New York City...

The Yankees began a 3-game series in Toronto against those pesky Blue Jays. And this time, they figured out that it helps if you score first. Jacoby Ellsbury led off with a double. Brett Gardner singled him over to 3rd. (Funny, but the Yankees got Ellsbury mainly for his speed, yet he couldn't score from 2nd on a single?) Carlos Beltran singled him home. Brian McCann flew out, moving Gardner to 3rd. Mark Teixeira singled Gardner home. The Yankees led 2-0.

Masahiro Tanaka took the mound for the first time in a North American major league game. The first batter he faced was former Yankee hero, turned exposed steroid user, Melky Cabrera. And on Tanaka's 2nd major league pitch, the Melkman delivered. Home run. 2-1 Yankees.

In the 2nd, 3 hits and an error brought home 2 more runs. 3-2 Jays. And Teix had to leave the game with an injury. (Oh boy here we go again.) Joe Girardi played musical chairs with the infield, moving rookie Yangervis Solarte from 2nd base to 3rd base, and Kelly Johnson from 3rd to 1st, and sent Brian Roberts out to 2nd, taking Teix's place in the batting order (5th).

From that point onward, the Jays only managed 2 hits (1 of them erased in a double play), only 2 walk (neither by Tanaka), and no runs. So, for the 3rd time in 4 games, the Yank starters got into trouble early, and pitched fine from then on.

Tanaka was better than fine: 7 innings, 3 runs (only 2 of them earned), 6 hits, no walks, 8 strikeouts. Dellin Betances got into trouble with a pair of walks, but Matt Thornton before him and David Robertson after him were terrific.

But it wouldn't have mattered if the Yankees hadn't gotten a 3rd and a 4th run. They did, and then some.

In the top of the 3rd, Roberts walked with 1 out, and stole 2nd. Johnson struck out, and then it looked like Ichiro Suzuki had been thrown out at 1st. Girardi challenged the call under the new replay rule, and, for the first time in their illustrious regular-season history, the Yankees had an umpire's call overturned. Ichiro was found to be safe at 1st, and Roberts moved over to 3rd. Solarte continued his nice start, and doubled them both home. 4-3 Yanks.

(It wasn't the first time in their entire history, though: In Game 3 of the 2009 World Series, Alex Rodriguez hit a home run that was originally ruled a ground-rule double.)

Ellsbury led off the 4th with a double, got bunted over to 3rd by Gardner, and after Beltran was intentionally walked, McCann singled him home. 5-3 Yanks.

In the top of the 8th, rookie Dean Anna led off with a walk, and got to 2nd on a force play. (Girardi challenged this one as well, but lost.) A wild pitch got him to 3rd, and then Gardner singled him home. 6-3 Yanks.

In the 9th, with 2 out, Ichiro singled, and Solarte doubled him home. I can't wait for him to hit his first major league home run, so John Sterling can say, "Yangervis is Solar-te-powered!" And Anna got his first major league hit, a single to left. But a pair of former Yankees eliminated Solarte, as Melky threw him out, catcher Dioner Navarro (remember what a great prospect he used to be?) putting on the tag.

Yankees 7, Blue Jays 3. WP: Tanaka (1-0). No save. LP: Dustin McGowan (0-1).

Back to .500, at 2-2.

Day game after a night game. Michael Pineda finally makes his Yankee debut. May it be at least as good as Tanaka's.

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