After an impressive big league debut north of the border, Masahiro Tanaka will try to deliver another strong showing in front of the home crowd at Yankee Stadium.
New York sends Tanaka to the mound Wednesday night in the series finale against the Baltimore Orioles, who just broke out in a big way at the plate.
Tanaka lived up to the hype in Friday’s 7-3 victory at Toronto, allowing three runs – two earned – and six hits over seven innings. The right-hander, who signed a seven-year, $155 million deal in January, struck out eight and walked none.
"I think it’s really impressive," manager Joe Girardi told the Yankees’ official website. "You think about what he’s had to deal with all spring training, the attention that’s been on him. The covers of magazines. Everywhere he goes, people want to know when he’s pitching. That started Feb. 14. I think he’s handled it great."
Nerves could have been an issue for Tanaka, who gave up a homer to the first batter he faced and allowed two runs in the second inning before settling in. He threw 65 of his 97 pitches for strikes.
"He did a really good job of controlling his emotions and finding himself after the first couple of innings," Girardi said. "He was able to fix his mistakes early on and that’s the sign of a mature pitcher."
Blue Jays manager John Gibbons also came away impressed.
"He’s definitely the real deal," Gibbons said. "He’s strong, he stayed in the game, and when they gave him the lead back he kicked it in pretty good."
Tanaka will face an Orioles team that collected 20 hits in Tuesday’s 14-5 victory. Adam Jones, Delmon Young and Matt Wieters went deep for Baltimore (3-5), which had hit three homers and scored 22 runs over the first seven games.
"It was a lot of fun. It was a long game. It was long – in a good way," said Chris Davis, batting .391 with five RBIs in the last six games. "Everybody’s trying to find it right now. It felt good, as an offense, to score some runs."
Wieters has hit safely in each of his first seven games, going 10 for 27 with two homers and a double. Jones is batting .321 with three homers and seven RBIs during a seven-game stretch in the Bronx.
New York (4-4) will try to bounce back against Miguel Gonzalez, who surrendered a career worst-tying seven earned runs and nine hits in 3 1-3 innings of Friday’s 10-4 loss at Detroit.
"That was just a tough outing," he said after pitching in freezing rain. "The weather made it hard to grip the ball."
The right-hander also allowed seven runs in his most recent outing at Yankee Stadium, an 8-5 loss Aug. 30. However, he posted a 2.88 ERA in his other four matchups against New York last year.
"I like pitching here," Gonzalez told the Orioles’ official website. "They have a lot of lefties. And my (split-fingered fastball) works off of that. I think the confidence, also – you have that confidence when you know you pitch well against a team you face a lot. That helps."
Alfonso Soriano has homered twice in five at-bats against Gonzalez, and he’s 5 for 10 with a homer in the last three games after starting the season 0 for 16.