Yanks can’t match Opening Day pageantry
The pageantry of Opening Day never fails to elicit positive feelings. The sight of the Yankees players fresh up from spring training in the pinstriped white uniforms on a crisp, sunny day is welcomed to us who slugged our way through a frigid winter.
The huge flag in center field unfurled by the West Point cadet while the Military Academy’s band played the Star Spangled Banner had the crowd cheering loudly before the first pitch.
And handling the ceremonial first toss was none other than Joe Torre, the new Hall of Famer and popular former manager who threw a strike to catcher Brian McCann.
Masahiro Tanaka got off to a promising start. He struck out the Toronto leadoff hitter, Jose Reyes, on three pitches — a slider, a changeup and a split-finger fastball. In fact, Tanaka struck out three of the first four Blue Jays hitters.
The Japanese righthander, who missed most of the second half in 2014 because of right elbow inflammation, told writers in spring training that he was working on a two-seam fastball, which is why his radar gun readings were down from last year. The idea, he said, was designed toward pitch economy. Yet he was up to 55 pitches by the third inning, a messy one from the Yankees’ point of view.
Tanaka was submarined by his defense, although he was also to blame for failing to minimize the damage. A two-base throwing error by third baseman Chase Headley after fielding a sacrifice bunt by Reyes opened the gates for the Blue Jays. One run scored on the misplay, and two more followed on a single to right by former Yankees catcher Russell Martin, the Canadian native now playing for his country’s team.
Even more damaging was a two-run home run by Edwin Encarnacion off a high fastball. Just like that, it was 5-0, and some of that positive feeling was shrinking.
Tanaka lasted for four innings, but the Yankees backed him up with only one hit. He allowed five runs (four earned), five hits and two walks with five strikeouts, an outing that was not very encouraging.