Three pitches into his debut with the New York Yankees, Japanese phenomenon Masahiro Tanaka had already yielded a home run to Melky Cabrera. Despite this, the 175 million dollar man picked himself up to record his first ever major league win whilst striking out eight batters. He allowed two more runs in the second inning, but then shut down the Toronto Blue Jays for five frames.
“I was missing some spots earlier in the game, but as the game progressed, I think I was getting better out there,” Tanaka said through an interpreter. “Obviously I’m happy. I think No. 1 is that I’m relieved.”
Statistically Tanaka was very impressive. He held the Blue Jay batters to a .222 batting average and had a 29.6 strikeout percentage. He induced ground balls on 63% of his outs, and 31% on fly balls. He left the game with a pitch count of 97 – 65 strikes and 32 balls. His fastball also averaged around 91 miles per hour. Another notable stat – he threw 67% of first strikes, allowing him to go right after the hitters.
After going 24-0 with a 1.27 ERA last year in Japan with the Rakuten Golden Eagles, he emerged as the hottest commodity on the free agent market. Despite much interest, he inked a seven-year, $175-million deal with the New York Yankees, and showed glimpses of what he could do during spring training. Now, after his first major league start, it’s fair to say Tanaka lived up to the hype.
Up next – Masahiro Tanaka will likely take to the mound against the Baltimore Orioles at Yankees stadium for his home debut.