Tanaka overcomes rocky start to win Yankees debut

Sat Apr 5, 2014 12:40am EDT
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By Steve Keating

TORONTO (Reuters) - Masahiro Tanaka got his debut off to the shakiest of starts before showing why the New York Yankees spent $175 million to bring him to the Major Leagues as he led the Bronx Bombers to a 7-3 win over the Toronto Blue Jays on Friday.

Melky Cabrera, the first major league batter the 25-year-old Japanese ace faced in a regular season game, welcomed him to the big leagues by taking him over the wall in right field for a home run.

The Blue Jays continued to rough up Tanaka in the second, pushing across two more runs to jump in front 3-2 but he soon found his groove to quieten the cheers of the capacity crowd crammed into Rogers Centre for the Toronto home opener.

The right-hander delivered seven innings of impressive work, surrendering six hits, three runs (two earned) while striking out eight without a walk to collect his first major league win.

"It was my mistake and I felt Cabrera took a really good swing," Tanaka said through a translator. "I was nervous before going into the game.

"When I was on the mound I felt like couldn't really get into the game. I really couldn't focus at the beginning. I was able to focus better around the third inning.

"I'm obviously happy, but number one I am relieved."

Tanaka's debut was one of the most eagerly anticipated in recent baseball memory and an army of Japanese media made the trek to the Major League's northern outpost for a game that attracted huge interest on both sides of the Pacific.   Continued...

Apr 4, 2014; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; New York Yankees starting pitcher Masahiro Tanaka (19) throws a pitch during the fourth inning in a game against the Toronto Blue Jays at Rogers Centre. Mandatory Credit: Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports