Yankees right-hander Masahiro Tanaka enjoyed a successful major league debut last night, allowing three runs (two earned) over seven innings in a 7-3 win over the Blue Jays at Rogers Centre in Toronto.
It didn’t look so good early on. After being given a 2-0 lead, Tanaka got a rude welcome to the majors by giving up a solo home run to Melky Cabrera on his second pitch of the evening. C’mon Yankees fans, you have to admit that’s pretty funny. The high-priced right-hander gave up two more runs in the second inning on a Jonathan Diaz single, but settled down from there to retire 16 out of the final 18 batters he faced while New York’s offense picked him up.
Tanaka gave up six hits without walking a batter and notched eight strikeouts. As expected, he showed excellent control and a varied arsenal, including his much-hyped splitter. Per Brooks Baseball, he threw a total of 24 splitters and got whiffs on 10 out of 17 swings. Not a bad ratio. He worked mostly in the low 90s with his fastball and topped out at just over 95 mph.
All in all, it was a solid debut and Tanaka was mostly as advertised. If you’re a Yankees fan, you have to be encouraged to see that he bounced back after a rough start.
Major League Baseball announced on Wednesday that former Red Sox DH David Ortiz and Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant won the 2016 Hank Aaron Award in their respective leagues.
Ortiz, 40, flourished in his final season, batting .315/.401/.620 with 38 home runs and 127 RBI in 626 plate appearances during the regular season. His .620 slugging percentage, 1.021 OPS, and 48 doubles led the majors while his 127 RBI led the American League. Ortiz also won the Hank Aaron Award back in 2005.
Bryant, 24, is the likely winner of the National League Most Valuable Player Award as well. He hit .292/.385/.554 with 39 home runs and 102 RBI over 699 plate appearances. He also led the league by scoring 121 runs. Bryant is the first Cub to win the Hank Aaron Award since Aramis Ramirez in 2008.
Last year’s winners in the AL and NL, respectively, were Josh Donaldson and Bryce Harper.
If you’ve happened to catch any of the coverage of the 2016 postseason on Fox and FS1, you’ve heard former Yankees DH Alex Rodriguez as part of an analyst panel with host Kevin Burkhardt and former major leaguers Pete Rose and Frank Thomas. Rodriguez has drawn rave reviews not just for passing a rather low bar we set for former athletes-turned-commentators, but because he’s adding real insight drawn both from his playing days and from doing research.
Indeed, Rodriguez is taking his new job as an analyst quite seriously, Newsday’s Neil Best reports. Bardia Shah-Rais, the VP of production for Fox, said of Rodriguez, “This is not a hobby for him. It’s not a parachute in. He’s invested. If we have a noon meeting, he’s there at 11:30 a.m. He’s emailing story ideas in the morning. He wants research. He’s almost all-in to the point where it’s annoying.”
Rose also praised Rodriguez, saying, “You’ve never been around a guy who prepares more than Alex does. Alex does his homework. He knows the game. He understands players. He’s into the deal . . . Frank does a great job in preparation, too. I’m the only one that don’t prepare as much as these two guys. I don’t know if that’s because I can’t write or what it is. But these guys do their homework and they ask questions and they ask the right questions and then you put that in with our experience, all the things we’ve been through and how good we get along with each other, that’s why it shows up on the TV.”
Rodriguez, who hasn’t officially retired despite not having played since the Yankees released him in mid-August, wouldn’t commit to more TV work beyond this year’s postseason.