NEW YORK (AP) _ Masahiro Tanaka shook his head and laughed when he was asked about that bubbly Japanese pop song he warmed up to _ the one that was written just for him and hasn’t been released yet. “I’d appreciate it if you could wait another month,” to ask about it, he said through a translator.
There’s a lot about the young Japanese star that’s a work in progress.
Tanaka struck out 10 over seven innings of his first start at Yankee Stadium, showing off the nasty split-fingered fastball that made him the prize pitcher of the offseason after going 24-0 in Japan. But he also gave up another early homer, this time a soaring three-run shot to Jonathan Schoop in the second inning of the Baltimore Orioles’ 5-4 victory over New York on Wednesday night.
“That’s something I need to adjust,” Tanaka said of the trouble in the first couple of innings, “But it’s really hard to make an assessment just by two games.”
Nick Markakis had an RBI single and Chris Davis a sacrifice fly in the ninth inning against fill-in closer Shawn Kelley as the Orioles rallied for their second straight win.
Carlos Beltran and Kelly Johnson connected against Miguel Gonzalez in the second. Alfonso Soriano tied it with a groundout in the fourth.
The Orioles lined four straight hits to center field off Kelley, pitching the ninth for the second time in place of the injured David Robertson.
Ryan Flaherty and Schoop each got hits on an 0-2 pitch from Kelley (0-1) and Markakis singled in Flaherty and, after Delmon Young had his third hit of the night, Davis made it 5-3 with a sacrifice fly.
I felt like they did a good job getting the barrel to some good pitches,” Kelley said. “If I bounced some of those balls, maybe they’re swing and misses.”
Tommy Hunter gave up two hits to start the ninth and a sacrifice fly to former Oriole Brian Roberts before getting Yangervis Solarte to ground into a double play for his third save. Brian Matusz got two outs (1-0) in the eighth.
“It’s not always going to be pretty, you just look at the result,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said.
There were many empty seats on a brisk night in the Bronx despite it being New York’s first chance to see the prized Tanaka, who signed a seven-year, $155 million contract with the Yankees this winter _ plus a $20 million rights fee paid to his team in Japan, Ratuken.
Tanaka warmed up to “My Dear Fellow” by the Japanese group Momoiro Clover Z. He then received a rude welcome from Markakis.
The Orioles leadoff batter grounded the first pitch of the game right back at Tanaka, hitting the right-hander on the foot before it deflected to shortstop Derek Jeter, who made the throw for the out.
In similar fashion to his first big league start at Toronto, Tanaka was tagged early before settling in.
He gave up three runs _ two earned _ in the first two innings Friday of a seven-inning outing in which he struck out eight. This time, Schoop hit a drive high above the left field pole in the second inning.
But Tanaka gave up just three more singles _ seven hits overall _ and a walk on 101 pitches.
“Again, it seemed like he got better as the night went on,” manager Joe Girardi said.
Gonzalez was equal to the task, allowing seven hits and three runs. He walked one and struck out three.
Adam Jones came up to a smattering of boos before his first at-bat a day after he said, “They should let us have a shot to kick `em with our metal spikes,” about two fans who ran on the field during Tuesday’s game. The fans’ shenanigans got a huge cheer from the crowd.
Jones struck out his first two times up to hardy cheers. Jones wasn’t alone. Tanaka had the Orioles flailing at his nasty split-fingered fastball all night, many bouncing in the dirt.
“We’re not the same hitters he faced over there. We groove, we hack,” said Jones, who singled in his third at-bat off Tanaka.
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