The 2011 schedule is released. And there was much rejoicing

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Next year’s entire schedule — sans the still-possible Diamondbacks-Giants series in Taiwan — has been released. Here’s the actual schedule. Here’s some verbiage from MLB.com talking about how glorious it is.  And I suppose it might be glorious in places, but really dudes, it’s just a schedule.

The most notable thing about it is the early start — March 31st — and the early end — September 28th — which was designed to avoid November baseball.  If we can avoid those more frequent late March-early April snow storms it will be just spiffy.  The All-Star Game is July 12th. Which is kind of a drag because that means there are real games that count on my birthday — July 14th — and rather than hosting some self-centered bacchanalia, I’ll be reading box scores and writing snarky And That Happened entries. Sigh.

I do very much like the Thursday afternoon start, though.  It’s way better to knock off the end of the week than the beginning, so we can all treat Opening Day (and The Day After Opening Day) as a national holiday and go have beers and watch baseball in downtown bars as God and Nature intended.

Final question: is it bad that, after writing that, I’m more excited for Opening Day 2011 right now than I am for today’s games and the remainder of the pennant race?

Masahiro Tanaka throws two-hit shutout vs. Rays

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Yankees starter Masahiro Tanaka went the distance, holding the Rays scoreless on two hits and one walk with 10 strikeouts across nine innings on Monday night in the Bronx. It’s the fourth shutout of his career, accounting for four of the Yankees’ last six shutouts. The other two were thrown my Luis Severino and Brandon McCarthy.

DJ LeMahieu provided the bulk of the offense, swatting a two-run home run off of Yonny Chirinos in the third inning. Cameron Maybin tacked on a solo homer off of Chirinos in the fifth as the Yankees went on to win 3-0.

After Monday’s performance, Tanaka owns a 3.23 ERA with 84 strikeouts and 20 walks across 92 innings on the season.

With the win, the Yankees increase their lead over the Rays for first place in the AL East to 1.5 games.