Masahiro Tanaka looked sharp through the first two innings, striking out three and establishing the ability to spot all of his pitches. His fastball velocity was consistently around 91-93 mph as well, in-line with numbers from last year. Things unravelled for Tanaka in the third inning though, as he struggled with command. A sharp groundball down the left field line from the #8 hitter Kevin Pillar and a walk for Devon Travis brought the top of the lineup back with two on and nobody out. A Chase Headley error on a Jose Reyes sacrifice bunt attempt allowed the first run to score, a Russell Martin single brought home two more runners still with nobody out. The exclamation mark on the inning was a Edwin Encarnacion home run to left field, which made it 5-0 Blue Jays. Tanaka went back to dominating the Blue Jays in the fourth inning, striking out the side, but the damage was done.
The Yankees got little going on offense early. Brett Gardner threatened to get the scoring started in the first with a hard line drive all the way to the wall, but it was well played by Jose Bautista. The first baserunner of the 2015 season for the Bombers was Alex Rodriguez, reaching on a walk to lead off the third inning. Rodriguez also had a hit, as did Brian McCann. Mark Teixeira walked. That was it, for the first five innings. Gardner lead off the sixth against a tiring Drew Hutchison with a solo home run to break the shutout. The next two batters, Carlos Beltran and Teixeira, threatened to add to the scoring as both hit fly balls to the warning track. The Yankees couldn't quite get the second run from the inning though. Hutchinson was left in to get one out in the seventh and the Toronto bullpen took it from there. Didi Gregorius committed the first Yankee TOOTBLAN of the year in the eighth inning when he was caught trying to steal third base with two on and two outs in a five run game.
Chris Martin pitched an emphatic fifth inning in relief of Tanaka, striking out the side, and an impressive side it was too; Bautista, Encarnacion and Josh Donaldson. Chasen Shreve pitched a spotless sixth, but gave up a lead off home run in the seventh to Travis. David Carpenter got the final two outs of the seventh and pitched a clean eighth. Justin Wilson walked the bases loaded in the ninth, but Esmil Rogers came in to strike out Bautista for the final out.
A down note to start the year, but there were some positives. Gregorius made his Yankee debut in style on the defensive end, getting a cheer from the crowd appreciating a second straight well-taken out to end the long third inning. Perhaps more of a positive surprise, Beltran looked good tracking a ball in right field as well. Gardner's power stroke from last season carried over to start this year, and Rodriguez showed life left in his bat after missing all of last season. Talk of the demise of Tanaka's fastball seems like it might have been much ado about nothing, even if he drove part of it himself. Most of all, everyone got out of the game healthy.
The Yankees have tomorrow off, and resume their series against the Blue Jays Wednesday night at 7.05pm. Michael Pineda takes the start, facing R.A. Dickey. Lets go Yankees, win the next one.