TORONTO — Masahiro Tanaka knew the English words to answer a question about the last time he’d been this anxious before a big game.
“Japan Series,” Tanaka said, referring to last season’s championship in which he saved the clinching seventh game.
Nerves were an issue for Tanaka in the early innings of his major league debut for the New York Yankees, but the right-hander soon settled into his new surroundings. Tanaka pitched seven innings, Jacoby Ellsbury had three hits and the Yankees beat the Toronto Blue Jays 7-3 on Friday night.
“He did a really good job of controlling his emotions and finding himself after the first couple of innings,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said of Tanaka. “He was able to fix his mistakes early on and that’s the sign of a mature pitcher.”
Staked to a 2-0 lead before taking the mound, Tanaka (1-0) got a startling welcome to the major leagues when he surrendered a home run to Toronto’s Melky Cabrera on his third pitch. It was Cabrera’s first homer of the season and the second leadoff shot of his career.
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