Masahiro Tanaka dominates the Cubs

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Three games have been completed this afternoon. All three have been shutouts. The Yankees-Cubs game is the second one which featured a dominating starting pitching performance. Masahiro Tanaka allowed only two hits in eight innings while striking out 10 Chicago Cubs batters and walking only one while throwing 107 pitches.

Tanaka now has 28 strikeouts in his first three starts. That’s Strasburgian territory for major league debut dominance.

The Yankees won 3-0 thanks in part to a Carlos Beltran homer. I still have no idea how they’ll do this year, but two of the big questions the Yankees had entering the season was (1) how much of Tanaka’s Japanese success will carry over to the United States; and (2) how Michael Pineda will do following two years off due to injury. So far, both of those questions are being answered in pleasant fashion from the perspective of the Yankees.

Mariners sign Ichiro to a minor league deal

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USA Today’s Bob Nightengale reports that the Mariners will sign Ichiro Suzuki to a minor-league deal. If he makes the roster he’ll make $750,000. At least until he retires.

I say that because it seems quite clear that the idea here, telegraphed since last season, is to activate Ichiro for the Mariners’ series against the Oakland Athletics in Tokyo on March 20-21 and for hoopla surrounding it all. The Mariners and A’s will have a 28-man roster for that series, which is officially part of the regular season schedule, but it will be pared back down to 25 once games begin in the United States.

Suzuki, 45, hit .205/.255/.205 in 47 plate appearances through May 2 last season, at which point he agreed to be deactivated to join the Mariners’ front office. Many assumed Ichiro would announce his retirement later that season or during the offseason, but the Japan Series soon crystalized as an obvious way for him to offer his final farewell to both his American and his Japanese fans.

Unless of course he goes 6-10 with three doubles in that series, at which point everyone will be tempted to keep him on the roster past Japan. Which, given the Mariners’ rebuild and likely poor performance this coming season, wouldn’t exactly be hurting anyone, would it?