Entering the season, there was much doubt surrounding Tanaka and his ability to adjust to Major League Baseball. The 25 year old certainly looks like he has been pitching in the states for his entire career, as he has yet to be vulnerable in any of his first three starts for the Yankees. If the ace pitcher can continue at his current rate, he will be the Yankees Opening Day starter for many years to come, but lets not get ahead of ourselves. He is new to the league and a majority of the teams have not even faced him yet. After this season, we will be able to make a judgement call on Tanaka. However, that doesn't take away from his brilliance on the mound today. I have to give credit to catcher Brian McCann, who has made it his mission to get to know the pitchers on the staff and lead them to success in calling the game from behind the plate.
The Yankees offense started out with a bang courtesy Carlos Beltran, who was named AL Player of the Week for last week. He homered to open the scoring in the first inning. The one run would be all Tanaka and the Yankees would need as they shut out the low scoring Chicago Cubs. The remaining two runs scored by the Yankees came on a sac fly by Dean Anna and on an RBI groundout by Ellsbury, who also stole his seventh base of the season today. Newcomers Ellsbury and Beltran continue to be the Yankees hot hitters in the early going while players like Alfonso Soriano and Brian McCann are still finding their groove. With that said, I now believe that this lineup has come together and will only improve with time, not to mention especially since Mark Teixeira will return from the disabled list on Sunday in Tampa.
In the nightcap, dominant Michael Pineda will start for the Yankees, as he looks to replicate his previous start against the Red Sox where he allowed one run in six innings. Thanks to Tanaka's lengthy performance today, the bullpen is well rested and will be ready in case Pineda's pitch count gets too high or if Girardi sees his effectiveness slipping, which was the case in the seventh inning of his last start.