Japanese phenom and this past off-season’s most sought after free agent, right handed pitcher Masahiro Tanaka made his Major League Baseball debut Friday for the New York Yankees. He is known for going 24-0 last season with the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles of the Pacific League, which is one of two leagues that make up Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball. Going into Friday’s start against the Toronto Blue Jays he was 99-35 in his professional career and had a consecutive win streak of 28 dating back to 2012.
Things did not look good for Tanaka at the start. His third pitch to lead-off hitter, Melky Cabrera, was belted out of the yard by the Blue Jays’ outfielder. Tanaka gave up two more runs in the second inning but soon began to settle down. Tanaka admitted, through an interpreter, that he was nervous,
I was nervous before going into the game…Obviously I’m happy. I think No. 1 is that I’m relieved.”
The other members of the Yankees did their job pushing across seven runs for Tanaka making his job easier. He got a RBI each from Brian McCann, Brett Gardner, Mark Teixeira and Carlos Beltran plus three more on a home run by Yangervis Solarte. Tanaka talked about how they helped calm his nerves saying,
“My teammates really backed me up today.”
After giving up the home run to Cabrera, Tanaka gave up two more runs in the second inning before shutting down 16 of the last 18 batters he faced. In seven innings he struck out eight batters, gave up just six hits and didn’t issue a single walk.