Saturday, March 1, 2014

Masahiro Tanaka finally made his major league (spring training) debut, and it was not disappointing. Tanaka struck out three hitters in two scoreless innings, showing off the famous splitter, helping the Yankees take down the Philadelphia Phillies, 4-0, Saturday at George M. Steinbrenner Field in Tampa.

“I was nervous,” Tanaka said. “But it was a really good nervous.”

CC Sabathia and Hiroki Kuroda also tossed two innings each, both looking very good on the mound in their first game of the spring as well.

Tanaka entered the game in the 5th inning to a standing ovation by the Yankees fans in the park. He quickly got up 0-2 before allowing a lined single to Darin Ruf. He then set down the next three hitters, getting a strikeout for the third out, in a 17-pitch inning.

Tanaka started the 6th inning by striking out Phillies outfielder Ben Revere on a filthy, filthy splitter. Ronny Cedeno, who was down 0-2 in the count, then singles, but Tanaka ended the inning with a strikeout and a flyout.

A pretty good overall outing. He give up two hits in the the two shutout innings, and didn't walk anyone. He was throwing most of his seven pitches, topping out at 94-mph.

“For the first day, I think people like it, and I like it too,” Francisco Cervelli said. “I think that’s most important. His command was good and we tried to locate, tried to know each other. He looks real good.”

Sabathia started the game for the Yankees. Even though I missed him an Kuroda pitch, I was told that he looked good, not great, throwing as hard as 88 mph. After the game, Sabathia addressed the concerns with his lost velocity.

“My fastball is what it is,” Sabathia said. “If it gets better, it will. If it’s not, it won’t. I can pitch. I’m fine. As long as I’m healthy I’ll be good.”

Yankees manager Joe Girardi didn't seemed too concerned, either.

“That was something people wanted to make a ton about last year, and I’m not going to make much of it,” Girardi said. “To me, if he’s downhill and locating, I don’t care what his velocity is. He’s going to get people out.”

Sabathia gave up just two hits, both singles, while striking out one and walking none in two innings over scoreless work.

Again, just like with Tanaka, it's early in spring, but seeing that Sabathia is throwing the ball well is a good thing, and the Yankees really need him to bounce back after the miserable season he had last year.

And then there was Kuroda, who might have looked the best of the three starters.

Kuroda needed just 17 pitches to get through two scoreless innings. He said afterwards that he was really only using two pitches, his two-seamer being the main pitch, but was still working well. He surrendered just one hit, striking out one, and didn't issue any walks.

“From the hitters’ reactions, I could tell that my two-seamer, the ball was moving well,” Kuroda said.

Withe the pitchers doing their job, the Yankees' offense was able to drive home some runs to do their part.

Ichiro Suzuki, whose current roles is slated to be the fifth outfielder on the roster, put the Bombers on the board in the 4th inning. Francisco Cervelli and Kelly Johnson walked to open the inning, then Ichiro slapped a single into right field, bringing home Cervelli from second base.

The Yankees doubled their lead in the 5th inning when Derek Jeter reached base on a throwing error for the Philadelphia third baseman, going to second. Following a Brian McCann walk, Brian Roberts grounded into a fielders-choice, setting up runners on the corners with one out. The Cervelli ripped a ball to third base that the fielder couldn't handle, scoring Jeter.

McCann doubled and walked twice in the game as the the DH today, and Jeter was 0-for-2 and reached on the error.

Those two runs turned into four in the 7th inning on a two-run single by Adonis Garcia, plating both Dean Anna and John Ryan Murphy.

Dellin Betances pitched 1 2/3 innings of scoreless ball, walking one without giving up a hit, and Cesar Cabral closed out the game by striking out two in 1 1/3 innings.

The Yankees are back on the road tomorrow when they head to Dunedin, Florida to face the Toronto Blue Jays at 1:05pm EST. Vidal Nuno will be on the mound for the Yankees.


Gavin Ewbank is the Lead Writer of Yanks Beat Blog


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