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Masahiro Tanaka overcomes rough start to win in his major league debut

Apr 5, 2014, 9:36 AM EDT

Masahiro Tanaka AP AP

Yankees right-hander Masahiro Tanaka enjoyed a successful major league debut last night, allowing three runs (two earned) over seven innings in a 7-3 win over the Blue Jays at Rogers Centre in Toronto.

It didn’t look so good early on. After being given a 2-0 lead, Tanaka got a rude welcome to the majors by giving up a solo home run to Melky Cabrera on his second pitch of the evening. C’mon Yankees fans, you have to admit that’s pretty funny. The high-priced right-hander gave up two more runs in the second inning on a Jonathan Diaz single, but settled down from there to retire 16 out of the final 18 batters he faced while New York’s offense picked him up.

Tanaka gave up six hits without walking a batter and notched eight strikeouts. As expected, he showed excellent control and a varied arsenal, including his much-hyped splitter. Per Brooks Baseball, he threw a total of 24 splitters and got whiffs on 10 out of 17 swings. Not a bad ratio. He worked mostly in the low 90s with his fastball and topped out at just over 95 mph.

All in all, it was a solid debut and Tanaka was mostly as advertised. If you’re a Yankees fan, you have to be encouraged to see that he bounced back after a rough start.

  1. vallewho - Apr 5, 2014 at 9:40 AM


  2. proudlycanadian - Apr 5, 2014 at 9:49 AM

    Much too early to evaluate him.

    • lukedunphysscienceproject - Apr 5, 2014 at 10:05 AM

      So who was evaluating him?

      • proudlycanadian - Apr 5, 2014 at 10:17 AM

        See comments by bronxbomber13 below.

      • historiophiliac - Apr 5, 2014 at 12:11 PM

        The article above — which is about how Tanaka did in his first outing (and if he lived up to the hype). Note that PC didn’t even make a negative comment about him here. He simply said that more outings are necessary for a good evaluation (which is true). Thank you for over-reacting. Have a nice day.

      • lukedunphysscienceproject - Apr 5, 2014 at 12:21 PM

        How is me asking the question over reacting?

      • historiophiliac - Apr 5, 2014 at 12:40 PM

        No, the question was about your failure to read. The over-reacting is your comment below.

        (Commence over-reacting and not critically thinking about this either.)

      • lukedunphysscienceproject - Apr 5, 2014 at 12:49 PM

        Your never ending condescension on this site is amusing. I did read the article and took it (after much required critical thinking) as an evaluation of his first start. I fail to understand how it could be too early to evaluate a start after the start has taken place. That was the point of my original comment to PC. If his comment was simply to inform us all that it was too early to evaluate Tanaka as a pitcher after one start, well then thank you Captain Obvious.

      • historiophiliac - Apr 5, 2014 at 1:03 PM

        And yet, his obvious statement still seemed to stump you — as you had to ask for clarification (despite the subject of the whole post above). Note that you both talked about evaluating “him” — not the start. You were just overly sensitive to what you perceived as a slight against your new pitcher. If you read PC’s comment not as a homer, you wouldn’t have spazzed and left so many comments about this on the page. Frankly, you should have thicker skin, Yank. You’re both homers, but that doesn’t change the fact that PC made a factual statement.

    • lukedunphysscienceproject - Apr 5, 2014 at 10:19 AM

      So we can’t even evaluate individual starts? How many starts do we have to wait before we can start talking about pitchers?

      • proudlycanadian - Apr 5, 2014 at 10:22 AM

        I notice that you seem to like science Luke. It can be foolish to make a scientific conclusion based on an extremely small sample size.

      • lukedunphysscienceproject - Apr 5, 2014 at 10:24 AM

        Again, who is?

    • bronxbomber213 - Apr 5, 2014 at 10:26 AM

      it’s just sour grapes because it was againt your squad PC! I’m POSITIVE you would have given your opinions of him if that was his first start as a blue Jay…..

      • proudlycanadian - Apr 5, 2014 at 10:28 AM

        I am reminded of a story being distributed on Facebook. It goes as follows: “How to start an argument online.” “Post a comment.” “Wait.”

      • bronxbomber213 - Apr 5, 2014 at 10:37 AM

        You should also look at “how to deflect questions and comments that I have no response too”….your just pissed because he had a good first start and it was against your Jays….Had he given up 6 runs in 3 innings I’m SURE there would be paragraphs of your “analysis” of the game and his performance!! Calm down man it was his first start he looked good so we talk about the game the same thing well do after all his starts (some of which will be not so good I’m sure). Not one person is saying CY young for him just commenting on what we saw! I thought you were better than this dude I mean it blatantly sour grapes on your part!

  3. bronxbomber213 - Apr 5, 2014 at 9:55 AM

    He left a splitter up and paid for it and without Tex’s error it may have been the only run he would have given up…just watching him last night you can just tell he’s a competitor who’s cut more from the Darvish cloth than the Igawa cloth! He navigated a VERY tough Jays lineup and made Batista and a couple other very good hitters look foolish. What impressed me most is that he did not walk anyone and was aggressive all night. If this was an “off” night then I can’t wait for when he has 2 pitches working! That splitter, when he keeps it down, is out of this world. Regardless I think any fan would take 7 innings 2 earned runs from a starter ANY DAY! I was impressed with him and his composer/competitiveness (he left a pitch up that was fouled off to make the count 3-2 and turned around yelling at himself and smacked his glove, the next pitch he dots the outside corner with precision for the out) and I think hell do just fine this year but time will tell!

  4. Eutaw's Finest - Apr 5, 2014 at 9:59 AM

    1 start + 1 win = GOD

    Let’s simmer down and see how he looks after a few starts when hitters start picking up some of his tendencies. If he makes adjustments and continues having successful outings then it’s a great addition. However I think it’s a bit much to hype a guy on one start.

    Just ask Bonafacio about hot starts and how we can’t take it at face value.

    • lukedunphysscienceproject - Apr 5, 2014 at 10:05 AM

      What the hell are you talking about? Simmer down about what? Who’s calling him God? The article calls it “a successful debut” and a “solid start”, and that’s pretty much what you’ll read everywhere else.

      I love when people invent their own story lines and then complain about them. No one is calling Tanaka a God. Get over yourself.

      • yankees218 - Apr 5, 2014 at 10:21 AM

        @lukedunphysscienceproject -you literally took the words out of my mouth. That was awesome. After reading the above comment, I thought to myself, who said Tanaka was God? He’s had one make league start so that’s all they can go off of. No one said he’s the best pitcher ever, no one said the Yanks will win the world series now. He had one start in the majors so they wrote about that one start. Let’s calm down people.

  5. NYTolstoy - Apr 5, 2014 at 10:09 AM

    Not to sound crude but I didn’t find humor in the melky Homer. Other then he played for the Yankees for a bit I didn’t see it as huge belly laugh. Anyways he pitched pretty solid and quickly as well. I hope he is a Yu Darvish type pitcher and he has a sickly Splitter. Looks like he will get alot of Ks. So far I’ve been very happy with the rotation except for CC. The bullpen has also been impressive so here’s hoping for atleast a wild card hunt.

    On a different note the contract that the Yankees gave Tanaka was puzzling. Since he can opt out after 4 years. I really wished they would of put the opt out after 5 or 6 because he most likely will opt out and negotiate a bigger contract just like CC did. And I disliked CCs new deal. Of course if he falls apart then it’s not terrible but I hope he turns into an ace. Just hate that the Yankees might have to offer 7 or 8 years to keep him around at 29 and from there he starts to decline. Just my thoughts

  6. lukedunphysscienceproject - Apr 5, 2014 at 10:39 AM

    It never ceases to amaze me. A player does something early in the season. This site writes an article about it. People comment on it. And then, sure as Christ made little apples, here come the experts to remind us how small a one game sample size is because of course they are the only ones who realize that the season just started this week.

    Never mind the fact that if Tanaka had given up 6 runs in 2 1/3 innings last night, this article would be up to at least 50+ comments already ridiculing the Yankees for Tanaka’s contract and comparing him to every failed Japanese pitcher ever to cross the Pacific.

    Tanaka pitched a good game. He gave Yankee fans things to be excited about, and quite frankly, things to be worried about. No one thinks last night’s game makes him a God or the odds on Cy Young favorite.

    Where were all of these “small sample size- don’t get excited” posts on the article the other day talking about Robby Cano and the Mariners’ hot start?

    • indaburg - Apr 5, 2014 at 3:33 PM

      “Where were all of these “small sample size- don’t get excited” posts on the article the other day talking about Robby Cano and the Mariners’ hot start?”

      Because there’s statistical evidence from previous MLB seasons supporting that he can maintain some of his current level of production. In other words, there’s a greater historical sample size, even though the 2014 season is young. If Cano did not have a history of great offensive numbers and he suddenly had a .938 OPS, his numbers would be met with greater suspicion.

  7. cackalackyank - Apr 5, 2014 at 10:49 AM

    I have to agree with the folks here that are saying that one pitch up in the zone to Melky doesn’t=rough start. If you watched and saw the quality of the hits (or lack there of) in the 2nd inning for the Jays…I think it becomes a story of the quality of the NYY infield. (As speculated all off season long.) Leaving the hamstring strain aside…so far those that tout Teixeira’s defense are not having a good year so far, since he already has two errors in 3.3 games. Also, Tanaka settled down and kept the damage to a minimum rather than blowing his cool, and having a melt down, which shows poise.

  8. riverace19 - Apr 5, 2014 at 11:28 AM

    Bronx + Canadian = idiot
    I love how you guys get sideways to the story… I thought Tanaka was damn impressive he has more pitches and speeds then the Oregon Ducks have uniforms. He can locate and get 95 and keep hitters on their heels. Good signing by the Yanks.

    • bronxbomber213 - Apr 5, 2014 at 12:14 PM

      pretty sure I feel the same way you do so does that make you and idiot too?

  9. Eutaw's Finest - Apr 5, 2014 at 11:34 AM

    Sorry, my comment about God and all that jazz was based on BB’s analysis. Did he directly call him God? No. But the analysis was chock full of nuggets that basically leans that direction. Like calling the Jays a very potent/stacked lineup (no offense PC & Co.) when talking about Tanaka shutting them down. When is the last time anybody has called the Jays anything close to that? Just seemed to me that the abilities of that lineup were inflated to help boost Tanaka’s accomplishment. And essentially saying he did this on an off night, and that when ALL of his pitches are working watch out. So pull out the filler and it says “Tanaka beat a great offensive lineup on an off night.” To me? That reads as pumping the guy up after one start. Again: you need to see how hitters adjust to him and how he counters. If he can? Then he’s worth his hype. But it’s impossible to say after one start. I’m
    Not saying it was a bad one at all- very solid outing without a doubt. But again the Bonofacio comparison comes to mind. That’s all I was driving at.

    Next start versus my O’s. I anticipate a good one.

  10. doctorfootball - Apr 5, 2014 at 12:19 PM

    7 innings 2 earned runs 8 strikeouts. I’ll take that any day

    • zackd2 - Apr 5, 2014 at 1:59 PM

      Exactly. How that’s classified as “solid” in the article is borderline laughable.

  11. keltictim - Apr 5, 2014 at 2:52 PM

    Why midol anyone?

  12. tfbuckfutter - Apr 5, 2014 at 3:16 PM

    6.2 IPs, 5 Hits, 2 ER and 9 Ks is a pretty good start to a career.

    Oh, my mistake.

    That was Hideki Irabu’s line in his first game.

    Continue on.

  13. happytwinsfan - Apr 5, 2014 at 3:23 PM

    well staying out of this sample size back and forth, and just looking at the apparent quality of his pitches, as well as one can on tv, i’d say the scouting report on him based on his play in japan was spot on. he has three plus pitches but no plus plus pitches, and certainly not two plus plus pitches like randy johnson with his fast ball and mr splitty. he has pretty good control, but not perfect control. he appears to have a determined competitive personality, but probably isn’t a bob gibson. he is likely to be good, maybe very good, but not dominant.

    i wish the twins had him, but not at the price the yanks are paying.

  14. musketmaniac - Apr 5, 2014 at 6:07 PM

    this guy is going to be good, not great.

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