Tanaka overcomes rocky start to win Yankees debut
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...