TORONTO (AP) — Masahiro Tanaka got a startling welcome to the major leagues when the Japanese star gave up a home run to Toronto's Melky Cabrera on his third big league pitch.
Provided a 2-0 first-inning lead by the New York Yankees on Friday night, Tanaka began his career with a called strike on a 93 mph fastball. Cabrera took a slider, then sent a hanging changeup over the right-field wall as Ichiro Suzuki, another Japanese star, ran out of room.
Tanaka retired Colby Rasmus on a grounder to first, getting to the bag in time to take a relay throw from Mark Teixeira. Tanaka followed by throwing a curveball past Jose Bautista for a called third strike, then got Edwin Encarnacion to strike out swinging on a slider.
The 25-year-old right-hander went 24-0 with a 1.27 ERA last year as the Rakuten Golden Eagles won their first Japan Series title, then signed a $155 million, seven-year contract with the Yankees, who paid $20 million to Rakuten for his rights.