Masahiro Tanaka overcomes rough start to win in his major league debut

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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.

Kris Bryant on Joey Votto: “He’s the best player ever … He’s a future Hall of Famer, that’s for sure.”

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The Cubs wrapped up a four-game series against the Reds at Wrigley Field on Thursday afternoon, suffering a 13-10 loss to split the set. They’ll match up again against the Reds next week for a three-game series in Cincinnati. That’s good news for Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant, because that means he’ll get to see Reds first baseman Joey Votto some more.

As CSN Chicago’s Patrick Mooney reports, Bryant has grown quite fond of Votto. Bryant has already won a World Series ring, a Rookie of the Year Award, and an MVP Award, but he still looks up to Votto. According to Bryant, Votto is “the best player ever.” He added, ““He’s my favorite player. I love watching him. I love talking to him, just picking his brain. He gets a lot of (heat) about his walks and working at-bats and some people want him to swing at more pitches. But, gosh, I mean, he does an unbelievable job. You know that he’s going to give you a great at-bat every time he goes up there. It’s definitely a guy that I look up to and I can learn from.”

Bryant said that Votto is “a future Hall of Famer, that’s for sure.”

Bryant also explained how his approach changed by watching Votto. He said that in his rookie season, he was “swinging at everything.” Votto, however, is “aggressive, but he’s not going to swing at a pitch until he wants it.”

Indeed, in Bryant’s rookie season, he struck out in nearly 31 percent of his 650 plate appearances. This season, he has struck out in only 19 percent of his PA. His walk rate has also increased by more than 2.5 percent since his rookie campaign. Compared to last year, Bryant is down in HR and RBI, but his average is the same, his on-base percentage is markedly better, and his slugging percentage is only down by a minute amount.

Video: Daniel Descalso hits D-Backs’ third inside-the-park homer of the season

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Diamondbacks second baseman Daniel Descalso hit his team’s third inside-the-park home run of the season during Thursday’s 4-0 win over the Astros. In the top of the fourth inning, with the score 1-0 and the bases empty, Descalso ripped a 1-0, 83 MPH change-up to right-center field. The ball caromed off the wall, heading towards left field, which sent center Jake Marisnick on the chase. Marisnick tried to pick up the ball with his glove, but dropped it, which sealed Descalso’s destiny for an inside-the-parker.

It had only been five days since the Diamondbacks’ last inside-the-park home run. David Peralta hit one against the Cubs on August 12. Ketel Marte legged out his club’s first ITPHR on July 26 against the Braves.

As ESPN Stats & Info notes, the Diamondbacks have three as a team, which is amazing because the other 29 teams have hit seven combined.