Masahiro Tanaka goes two scoreless, strikes out three in his U.S. debut

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TAMPA — Masahiro Tanaka made his U.S. debut today, facing the Phillies at Steinbrenner Field in Tampa. Tanaka pitched third in the game, with CC Sabathia and Hiroki Kuroda taking the first four innings. Tanaka was not dominant, but he was effective.

In the fifth he gave up a leadoff single to Darin Ruf then retired Cody Asche and Cameron Rup on flies to left. He pitched the count full against Cesar Hernandez before ultimately striking him out. Back out for the sixth he struck out Ben Revere on three swinging strikes, one of which came on Tanaka’s fabled split-finger fastball. He then allowed a Ronny Cedeno single to center, struck out Domonic Brown and then induced Kelly Dugan to fly out to center.

Tanaka wasn’t razor-sharp, but he looked just fine for a guy getting his first work in of the spring. He threw 32 pitches, 22 for strikes. When he needed to dial it up a bit, such as that splitter to Revere and the chest-high fastball that served as strike three to Brown, he was able to easily. Mostly, he looked composed. He was like any other major leaguer at the first of March. He knows it’s a long season and didn’t feel any need to go to 10 when the Yankees only needed him at a 7.

Not bad for a 7.

Check out the highlights from Tanaka’s performance below:

 

Francisco Cervelli shines in his Braves debut

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Last week the Pittsburgh Pirates released Francisco Cervelli. Yesterday he was signed by the Braves. Atlanta gave him the start behind the plate and he went 3-for-5 with two doubles and three runs driven in to help his new team to victory over the Mets. Welcome to Atlanta, Frankie.

Cervelli had been rehabbing from a concussion and hadn’t seen big league action since late May. He was ready to come back, though, and the Pirates — who are going nowhere — gave him his release so that he might join a contender for the stretch run.

The performance he put up last night, obviously will not be the norm for him going forward. But it’s also the case that his early 2019 batting line of .193/.279/.248 is not indicative of his talent level either. He posted an .809 OPS (122 OPS+) in 2018, and if he gives Atlanta anything even approaching his usual production it’ll help stabilize a shaky catching situation for the Braves.