With Masahiro Tanaka's much-anticipated debut deemed a success, the New York Yankees now turn their attention to a first start over two years in the making.
After winning the fifth spot in New York's rotation, Michael Pineda takes the mound Saturday in Toronto for his first Yankees outing after being acquired over two years ago and missing the 2012 and '13 seasons due to right labrum surgery.He could be doing so without first baseman Mark Teixeira, who left Friday's 7-3 win against the Blue Jays (2-3) in the bottom of the second inning with a strained right hamstring.The 6-foot-7 Pineda was brought to New York (2-2) before the 2012 season after going 9-10 with a 3.51 ERA in 28 starts for Seattle in 2011. He landed on the disabled list after six spring appearances that season, and in his return this March went 2-1 with a 1.20 ERA in four spring games, fanning 16 with one walk in 15 innings."The best thing is my shoulder is feeling good, and I can pitch and compete in the game," Pineda told the team's official website this spring. "I'm happy with that."He took the loss in his last spring start March 23 against the Blue Jays, allowing two earned runs on six hits in six innings."I don't want to make too much of it, but I've said all along that he looked different, what we've seen this spring compared to a couple of springs ago," manager Joe Girardi said after one of his earlier starts. "The ball coming out of his hand, I thought he'd cleaned up his mechanics a lot."Pineda opposes another pitcher out to regain his form from a few years ago. R.A. Dickey (0-1, 10.80 ERA) didn't make strides toward doing so in his first start, a 9-2 loss in Tampa Bay on Monday. The former NL Cy Young winner allowed six runs on five hits with six walks in five innings to begin his second season in Toronto."I just lost the feel of it there for a little bit," said Dickey of his knuckleball. "I was struggling to find a release point and did a poor, poor, job of making the in-game adjustments that I needed to make."Last season against the Yankees, Dickey went 2-2 with a 2.54 ERA while holding them to a .198 batting average.New York went 14-5 against the Blue Jays in 2013, winning 12 of the first 13 meetings, and they pointed themselves in the right direction again Friday.Tanaka allowed two earned runs on six hits over seven innings while striking out eight after allowing a home run to the first batter he faced, former Yankees outfielder Melky Cabrera.Tanaka got plenty of support from fellow Yankees newcomer Jacoby Ellsbury, who returned to the lineup after being used as a defensive replacement Thursday and went 3 for 4 with two doubles, two runs scored and two stolen bases."He did everything tonight," Girardi said. "He hit, stole bases, made a great catch in centerfield. That's why we went and got him, because that's what he capable of doing. He's a game-changer."Ichiro Suzuki also had three hits and is 5 for 9 with four runs scored in two games.The Blue Jays gave starter Dustin McGowan a 3-1 lead after two innings, but he wasn't able to make it through the third.First baseman Edwin Encarnacion had a 2-for-4 night after going 1 for 16 in the first four games.Toronto is 5 for 35 (.143) with runners in scoring position through the first five games.
The Yankees, who entered today as one of two teams yet to hit a HR this season (Royals are the other), currently trail the Blue Jays, 1-0, in the middle of the 6th.
This is the Yankees' 5th game of the season. The last time started a season without a HR in the first 5 games of the season was 1990, when they went without a HR in their first 7 games.
The 1990 Yankees finished 67-95 and in last place in a then 7-team AL East and had the worst record in the American League.
The Yankees have 0 HR in their opening 5 games of a season for the first time since 1990 (homerless in first 7 games). The Blue Jays allowed the 2nd-most home runs last season, while the Astros allowed the 3rd-most.