Mashiro Tanaka made his much-anticipated debut last night and didn’t disappoint. Despite a shaky first few innings, Tanaka settled in to throw 7 innings while allowing 3 runs with 8 strikeouts on his way to earning his first win.
His start didn’t look promising, as former Yankee Melky Cabrera lead the game off with a home run on a hanging splitter. Tanaka had some trouble keeping the ball down early on and looked as if things might get ugly. But he was able to settle down and get into a groove as he began to locate his pitches. The splitter, his trademark pitch, began to sit down in the zone and Tanaka finished the game showing the dominance he is capable of.
It’s hard to imagine Tanaka coming even close to the 24-0 record he posted in Japan last season, but the Yankees do need ace like numbers out of him. Brian Cashman may have announced Tanaka as a middle of the rotation starter, but we all know the Yankees desperately need him to pitch like an ace. C.C. Sabathia’s days of being the anchor of the pitching staff are behind him and Kuroda’s age is beginning to catch up with him. The Yankees chances of playing into October this season rely heavily on the shoulders of Tanaka.
Watch the highlights of Tanakas’ start: