Japanese Right-Hander Shook Off Slow Start To Dominate In Toronto On Friday

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — If his first start was any indication, Masahiro Tanaka very much belongs in the majors.

But on Wednesday, he’ll need to pass a smell test in the Bronx.

The Yankees will unveil their $155 million Japanese import on Wednesday night when they conclude their three-game series with the Baltimore Orioles.

Tanaka, who signed a seven-year, $155 million deal during the offseason after having a season for the ages in Nippon Professional Baseball, told reporters he was impressed by the stadium during the Yankees’ home opener on Monday.

“I got to see a glimpse of it when we came here for the big press conference back in February, but I was able to take a more thorough look at it (Monday) and I think this is just a very nice facility,” Tanaka said through an interpreter prior to Tuesday’s game, which the Orioles won 14-5.

“If you listen to the crowd, yes, of course it makes me feel at home,” Tanaka added.

Tanaka, who went 24-0 with a 1.27 ERA for Rakuten of the Japan Pacific League last season, made his major league debut on Friday night in Toronto and, following a shaky start, ended up ruining the Blue Jays’ home opener.

The 25-year-old right-hander allowed three runs in the first two innings, but eventually settled in, giving up just two earned over seven frames, with eight strikeouts and no walks in the Yankees’ 7-3 victory.

In all, Tanaka threw 97 pitches, including 65 for strikes, displaying a fastball that hovered around 92-93 mph, a splitter that fell off the table, and, especially as he went through the lineup a third time, a change of speeds that was enough to keep the Blue Jays’ power hitters off-balance.

The Orioles figure to pose the same kinds of problems as the Jays, as they feature a lineup with several players with power who feast on mistakes.

Tanaka said his success Wednesday will be predicated on making the types of adjustments he made in his first start.

“I always tell this to you guys, but for me, it’s all about the mechanics of how I pitch,” he said. “That said, I know what I need to fix.”

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