Monday, April 6, 2015

Blue Jays spread wings, power up to fly past Yanks

Edwin Encarnacion homered and Russell Martin drove in a pair of runs as the Blue Jays knocked around Masahiro Tanaka and celebrated a 6-1 Opening Day victory on Monday at Yankee Stadium.
Toronto hung a five-run third inning on Tanaka, who leaned heavily on his offspeed pitches as he attempts to pitch through a partial tear of his right ulnar collateral ligament. The right-hander needed 82 pitches to get through four frames, forcing the Yankees to go to the bullpen early.
Tanaka's troubles: Grabbing the honors of Opening Day starter from CC Sabathia, Tanaka pitched well through his first two innings before struggling in a five-run third. After a single and walk, Tanaka crossed in front of third baseman Chase Headley on a Jose Reyes sacrifice bunt, and Headley's throw was air-mailed down the right-field line, allowing Kevin Pillar to score the Blue Jays' first run.
Martin followed with a two-run single through the over-shifted right side of the infield, and Encarnacion clubbed a two-run homer to left field. Having all but abandoned his four-seam fastball this spring, Tanaka sat mostly at 90-91 mph and maxed out at 93 mph. Encarnacion's homer was hit off a 90-mph two-seamer.
Hutchison cruises: Drew Hutchison was in command of the Yankees' lineup, holding New York hitless until Brian McCann singled with two outs in the fourth. The youngest Opening Day starter in Blue Jays history, the 24-year-old Hutchison permitted just Brett Gardner's sixth-inning homer among three hits over six innings, walking two and striking out three.
A-Rod returns: Alex Rodriguez showed good plate discipline all spring and worked a walk in his first big league plate appearance since Sept. 25, 2013, becoming the Yankees' first baserunner of the season. He singled off Hutchison in the fifth, giving him 2,940 career hits. Rodriguez was mostly cheered in pregame introductions, receiving the loudest reaction from the crowd. More »
Welcome to The Show: Blue Jays second baseman Devon Travis looked pretty relaxed on Opening Day despite making his Major League debut at Yankee Stadium. Travis walked in his first at-bat and then hit a solo home run in the top of the seventh inning. He became the first Blue Jays player since J.P. Arencibia to record a homer with his first hit. Travis also became the first rookie second baseman to start Opening Day for the Blue Jays since Mike Sharperson in 1987.
"He's a cool cat. He comes out there, you give him the ball, and he's just staring at you with a little smile, a little grin on his face. He's a special guy, he's got the arm, he can pitch, but he's got a low heartbeat, and that's really going to help him." -- Blue Jays manager John Gibbons on right-hander Miguel Castro, who made his big league debut with 1 1/3 scoreless innings of relief
"I'm not going to make excuses. He's capable of pitching better than today, and he will. I think you'll see it as long as he stays healthy, and I believe right now he is healthy." -- Yankees pitching coach Larry Rothschild, on Tanaka
The Yankees made a conscious effort to get younger during the offseason, and they were successful, according to research performed by the Elias Sports Bureau. The Bombers' average Opening Day age of 30 years, 33 days is their youngest since 1996 (29 years, 299 days).
The Blue Jays' Opening Day lineup featured two Canadians -- Dalton Pompeyand Martin -- for the first time in club history. The last Major League team to have at least two Canadian-born players in their Opening Day starting lineup were the Washington Senators in 1946, with Jeff Heath and Sherry Robertson.

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