History was made on Sunday afternoon when the Yankees took on the Tampa Bay Rays for Opening Day.
Unfortunately it wasn’t the feel-good history that the Yankees can brag about for the rest of their franchise’s existence.
Masahiro Tanaka had one of the ugliest starts you would ever see, allowing seven runs on eight hits in 2.2 innings. But that wasn’t the history Tanaka made.
He was the first Yankees pitcher in the last 100 seasons to not only allow seven home runs, but also two home runs.
So what happened to Tanaka on Opening Day? No one, not even Joe Girardi could anticipate as bad a start from Tanaka of all people.
“I think he didn’t command anything,” Yankees pitching coach Larry Rothschild said after the Yankees fell to the Rays 7-3 at Tropicana Field. “But it starts with the fastball and he was just out of whack. It wasn’t noticeable delivery wise, but he pulled some balls and overthrew a few pitches and just couldn’t find the rhythm.
“He didn’t have command of his fastball. If you’re throwing a fastball downhill and the right way, the split is going to be good. It didn’t have the same finish to it.”
The way Tanaka pitched on Opening Day was the opposite of how he pitched during Spring Training. Tanaka posted a 0.38 ERA in 28.2 innings during the Grapefruit League.
Tanaka attempted to make in-game adjustments against the Rays, which is something Tanaka has done well over his career. He failed at making those adjustments, which caused him to get knocked around for almost three innings.
“He tried a few things and it just didn’t work,” Rothschild said. “He’s usually very good at having a couple pitches to go to when something else isn’t working, but because command-wise overall he was off, he really had nowhere to go.”
So what’s the game plan for Tanaka as he anticipates his next start?
“Basically forget it,” Rothschild said. “But if there’s something that I see that we need to work on and correct, then that’s what we’ll do in-between (starts) on the side.
“You get concerned about everybody no matter what, but he’s really good at self-correcting and straightening things out and I think he’ll get back on it pretty quickly.”