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Masahiro Tanaka goes two scoreless, strikes out three in his U.S. debut

Mar 1, 2014, 2:52 PM EDT


TAMPA — Masahiro Tanaka made his U.S. debut today, facing the Phillies at Steinbrenner Field in Tampa. Tanaka pitched third in the game, with CC Sabathia and Hiroki Kuroda taking the first four innings. Tanaka was not dominant, but he was effective.

In the fifth he gave up a leadoff single to Darin Ruf then retired Cody Asche and Cameron Rup on flies to left. He pitched the count full against Cesar Hernandez before ultimately striking him out. Back out for the sixth he struck out Ben Revere on three swinging strikes, one of which came on Tanaka’s fabled split-finger fastball. He then allowed a Ronny Cedeno single to center, struck out Domonic Brown and then induced Kelly Dugan to fly out to center.

Tanaka wasn’t razor-sharp, but he looked just fine for a guy getting his first work in of the spring. He threw 32 pitches, 22 for strikes. When he needed to dial it up a bit, such as that splitter to Revere and the chest-high fastball that served as strike three to Brown, he was able to easily. Mostly, he looked composed. He was like any other major leaguer at the first of March. He knows it’s a long season and didn’t feel any need to go to 10 when the Yankees only needed him at a 7.

Not bad for a 7.

Check out the highlights from Tanaka’s performance below:


  1. doctorfootball - Mar 1, 2014 at 2:56 PM

    As Ken Singleton noted, his breaking stuff wasn’t sharp. That said, he had excellent control of his fastball and changeup. That splitter is nasty though

    • mmeyer3387 - Mar 1, 2014 at 3:15 PM

      This is a very small sample of Tanaka. I understand that your a little excited about Tanaka’s first start, which can be viewed as a positive performance. However, it was way to early to make judgments one way or another.

      • doctorfootball - Mar 1, 2014 at 3:35 PM

        I judged his two innings of work. I didn’t project him as a star moving forward. It’s well known his splitter is filthy. It’s not like I’m saying anything outrageous.

      • mmeyer3387 - Mar 1, 2014 at 8:05 PM

        Don’t get so upset my friend, but judging him from two only two innings, is not fair to him or you. As I said before, its to early to tell, with Such A SMALL SAMPLE. Listen, he looked good, but not overpowering. He did not show an overpowering fast ball like Yu Darvish. That being said, his split looked good and I would not be surprised if he turned out to be a good pitcher. Lets give him a break and wait to see more innings from him.

  2. jcmeyer10 - Mar 1, 2014 at 3:02 PM

    Well that settles that…

  3. uyf1950 - Mar 1, 2014 at 3:55 PM

    It’s just ST and very early ST at that. But it is a very good start for not only Tanaka but CC and Kuroda as well.

  4. unclemosesgreen - Mar 1, 2014 at 4:19 PM

    If he even has a “show me” breaking ball, his fastball-split combination should play well. I haven’t seen pitch fx but that split looked amazing. His fastball command was excellent. It was approximately nothing like seeing some kid from AAA making his first start with the big club, he has the comportment of a veteran.

  5. therooneyskilledwebster - Mar 1, 2014 at 4:24 PM

    Not too shabby, especially decent life on his FB which hit 94 regularly. However, the incredible shrinking man’s FB only topped out at 88, but at least he looked slim, which isn’t a bad thing.

  6. themanytoolsofignorance - Mar 1, 2014 at 4:29 PM

    So Tanaka was Tanaka. At least in a Spring Training game. Good for The Yankees. The rest of the rotation, though? How are they doing? This team could well have one or two stud pitchers, a pair of strong hitters and that’s pretty much it. That is not enough

    • uyf1950 - Mar 1, 2014 at 4:35 PM

      You can tell all that from the first three ST games so far. It’s amazing, now I know where the idea for your moniker came from “the many tools of ignorance”.

      • themanytoolsofignorance - Mar 1, 2014 at 4:40 PM

        Dear me. Relax, will you? i’m merely posing a scenario based on the performance in one game by some key players. It IS ok to have an opinion, isn’t it? Face it, people are going to say some good things and some bad things about your team. With all the questions surrounding them, its reasonable to see one or two not so positive things said. At any rate, I can see why you are the “ultimate yankee fan”. Jerk that knee much?

  7. cackalackyank - Mar 1, 2014 at 6:55 PM

    Nice start to ST. Really means very little. The real deal comes in about 2+ weeks when these guys are all starting and penciled in for 5+. I’m guessing entering in the 5th at this stage of ST he did not face real MLB hitters for the most part. Sounds like a good starting point for all starters used since it went in the books as a shut out.

  8. dirtyharry1971 - Mar 1, 2014 at 8:25 PM

    That splitter he has is nasty stuff, cant wait to see the AL whiffing at that pitch.

    • spudchukar - Mar 2, 2014 at 10:16 AM

      Blue Jays, Blue Jays, Blue Jays. Canada off to a roaring start. Can’t wait to see them beating up on other AL teams.

      • dirtyharry1971 - Mar 2, 2014 at 11:54 AM

        the only beating up you are gonn see from the bluejays is the AL beating up their starting rotation. That NL staff didn’t cut it last year and now they are just a year older

      • spudchukar - Mar 2, 2014 at 1:53 PM

        Gonna be a long season for you DH, I fully expect for you to disappear with the surging success of the Jays.

  9. mikhelb - Mar 1, 2014 at 10:30 PM

    it was nice finally watching Tanaka making his spring training debut. His first pitch was a fastball which has good movement. appart from that he only topped 94 once or twice, he said in an interview for NHK and others that he only used TWO fastballs and five other types of pitches (six in total out of his usual seven). Sharp command of his splitter and cutter. His curve needs work but it was just his first game.

    Kuroda looked dominant in two very economical innings (17 pitches) helped in part by a very good play by Jeter fielding a ball between first and second base to tag the runner and throw to 1st to get the double play.

    CC’s fastball like in seasons past failed to get to 90mph but he looked fine with good command and control.

    Betances pitched two good innings. Flashed a live fastball in the mid 90s mph. Cabral also pitched and looked fine… now lets wait and see what happens when they face a more difficult team than the Phillies.

    Miguel González looked very similar to what i saw of him last year in the showcases for major league scouts: a low 90s mph fastball, a bit wild and erratic command. his control is ok but throws too many pitches out of the zone because his curve doesnt ‘bite’.

  10. coloradostupid - Mar 2, 2014 at 6:55 PM

    So what. Felix Doubront went 2 complete innings and struck out 3 today too – and he WAS dominant.

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