- Wallace Matthews, ESPN Staff Writer
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TORONTO -- It started out as Tanaka-Palooza but soon turned into Teixeira Scare-a. But in the end, it was Masahiro the Hero that carried the night. The Yankees lost their first baseman but gained a useful pitcher tonight as Masahiro Tanaka overcame the rockiest of starts -- a leadoff homer on his third pitch of the night -- to tame the dangerous Blue Jays in tonight's convincing 7-3 victory.
Tanaka went seven innings, allowed six hits and three runs (two earned), walked none and struck out eight. He threw 97 pitches, 65 for strikes. Overall, it was an impressive major-league debut for Tanaka, who retired 13 of the last 14 batters he faced after a third-inning double by Edwin Encarnacion. And after allowing two second-inning runs, one of them caused by Mark Teixeira's throwing error, Tanaka held the Jays scoreless the rest of the way. Solid performance in his first big-league outing.
Tex Wrecks: Teixeira left the game in the second inning with what the Yankees called a strained right hamstring. He was apparently injured chasing a foul grounder off the bat of Melky Cabrera. No word on how serious it is or how long he will be out.
Ells Bells: Jacoby Ellsbury provided the kind of spark at the top of the order that prompted the Yankees to sign him for 7 years and $153 million, getting hits in his first three at-bats, two of them doubles, including on leading off the game. Ellsbury also scored twice and stole a base, all before the game was four innings old. He also walked in the fifth and stole second, and made a terrific sliding catch on Dioner Navarro's parachute to end the sixth.
Tumultuous turn: An apparent inning-ending groundout by Ichiro Suzuki in the third inning was overturned by the umpires after Girardi challenged the call, and replays showed Ichiro was clearly safe. The reversal turned out to be great for the Yankees, who got a two-run double from Yangervis Solarte to give them back the lead, 4-3.
Tana-Kaboom!: Tanaka's welcome to Major League Baseball, and to Canada, was a rude one when ex-Yankee Cabrera absolutely crushed a splitter that didn't split deep into the right-field seats. The leadoff homer cut the Yankees first-inning lead in half, to 2-1. But Tanaka bounced back well, catching Jose Bautista looking at a good split and getting Encarnacion swinging to end the inning.
First blood: The Yankees jumped all over Dustin McGowan, greeting him with three straight hits starting with Ellsbury's double into the deep right-center gap. Carlos Beltran's bloop single plated Ellsbury with the first run, and Teixeira's single to right scored Gardner with the seocnd. But after Kelly Johnson singled to load the bases, McGowan settled down to fan Suzuki and got Solarte to foul out. The inning could have been much better for Yankees and much worse for the Jays.
The Sol Train: Solarte, whose inclusion on the team went right down to the wire, had a terrific night with two doubles and three RBI. Eduardo who?
Dino soars: In his first major-league start, Dean Anna played a good shortstop and picked up his first major-league hit, a single, in the ninth. He might have had his first big-league RBI, too, but Cabrera's strong throw from left cut down Solarte at the plate.
Girardi 1-for-2: Girardi challenged another call in the eighth inning after Ellsbury's comebacker hit Jays reliever Steve Delabar in the chest and ricocheted away, causing Delabar to bounce his throw to first, nearly pulling Encarnacion off the bag. But after a brief delay, announced as a minute, 23 seconds, the call was upheld and Ellsbury was retired for the first time in the game.
Was that the mayor?: A shirtless fan waving a towel ran onto the field in the seventh inning, breaking one tackle before being swarmed by an army of security guards. The fans cheered as he was carried off the field, although it was not entirely clear which side they were cheering for.
Tomorrow: The return, after 31 months, of Michael Pineda, who will be making his first major-league start since Sept. 21, when he was a rookie with the Seattle Mariners. Pineda will face RHP R.A. Dickey (0-1, 10.80) in a 1:07 p.m. start.