Tanaka off to record start with strikeouts

Masahiro Tanaka, the Yankees’ latest Japanese import, has gotten off to something of an historic start in the United States. The righthander, who has a 1-0 record and 3.21 ERA through his first two starts, tied one club record and set another with his strikeout totals from those games.

The Elias Sports Bureau reports that with eight strikeouts April 4 at Toronto and 10 K’s Wednesday night at Yankee Stadium against the Orioles Tanaka became the second Yankees pitcher to strike out at least eight batters in each of his first two major league starts. The other was Allen Russell in 1915 when the Yankees were based at the Polo Grounds.

In addition, Tanaka’s combined 18 strikeouts are the most for any pitcher in his first two Yankees starts. The previous record was 17 set in April 1955 by Bob Turley and matched by Dennis Rasmussen in May 1984 and Charles Hudson in April 1987.

Elias also notes that outfielder-designated hitter Alfonso Soriano has 18 home runs and 52 RBI in 66 games since he rejoined the Yankees July 26 last year. Those are the most homers in the majors over that stretch and tied with the Cardinals’ Matt Holliday for the second highest RBI total behind only the 53 of the Diamondbacks’ Mark Trumbo.

Rookie infielder Yangervis Solarte continues to be impressive in the early going. He has hit safely in his first seven career starts, becoming the first Yankees player to do so since Hideki Matsui hit safely in his first seven career starts from March 31 through April 4, 2003. The last Yankees hitter with a longer such streak was Mike Heath, who hit safely in his first 13 starts from June 28 to July 23, 1978. Solarte is tied for the major-league lead (with the Rays’ Desmond Jennings) with six doubles and is the first player since 1900 with at least six doubles through his first seven career games. Solarte ranks third in the American League in on-base percentage (.484) and fifth in batting (.429). He leads the Yankees in total bases (18), doubles (6), extra-base hits (6), RBI (7), batting average and OBP and is tied for the team lead in hits with Jacoby Ellsbury (12 apiece).

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