Make that a record six straight Opening Day losses for the New York Yankees. In this latest installment the blame falls squarely on starting pitcher Masahiro Tanaka. His line:
2.2 IP, 8 H, 7 ER, 2 BB, 3 K, 2 HR, 23.63 ERA
At least the bullpen pitched shut-out ball the rest of the way, striking out seven Tampa Bay Rays. I'm also glad Chase Headley hit three balls against the shift, Aaron Judge got his first hit of the year out of the way, and Starlin Castro got multiple base hits. Oh, by the way: don't get your panties in a bunch about Gary Sanchez, yet.
But back to Tanaka. It might have been the worst Opening Day start by a Yankees pitcher. Ever. That's what will happen when you have absolutely no command or location of your pitches. When he left the game in the third inning, the Twitter jokes began (I hope they were jokes) about him not opting out at the end of the season.
When that time comes, should he opt out? That question cannot be easily answered, whether he has a good year or not. After all, there is that elbow ligament. It could go at any time, they say. Would another team seriously consider signing Tanaka knowing that? He wouldn't have many takers. Maybe none at all. Then he would have to come back to the Yankees, "hat in hand," to beg for a new deal. That might be just what happens. I don't see the Yankees offering him a huge one at that point.
But we're not at that point, yet. There are still 161 games left. Tanaka Time comes around again this Saturday in Baltimore. Better luck then, Masahiro.