Talk about a party on a Friday night, as the Toronto Blue Jays‘ home opener was set to blast off against its AL East rival New York Yankees. While at the same time, its basketball brother was getting ready for the opening tip of their crucial late-season matchup a mere block away.
Not to mention the city invasion of the Japanese Media, following every move made by the Big Apple’s new starting pitching sensation, the man with the “nastiest splitter on earth,” Masahiro Tanaka.
Let’s just say the Toronto PD may have added a few uniforms to its downtown-beat to guard this circus. It looks like security is giving us the evil-eye, so let’s get down to the business at hand.
Both clubs came into the Rogers Centre with similar early season resumes. The fact that the Jays came out of Tampa Bay with a split-series to show for themselves has to be proclaimed a victory in itself, as the curse of Tropicana Field still remains. The Bronx Bombers’ dropped the ball in two out of three vs. the Houston Astros, followed by the start of a city’s uprising against the lackluster performance of its Opening Day starting pitcher C.C. Sabathia. That sounds vaguely familiar for some reason.
All the mainstream eyes were undoubtedly following Tanaka all night long. Did he come as advertised? Well, the aforementioned splitter sure did; the fear that pitch has brought to North America has been well documented, and it didn’t disappoint, with movement reminiscent of the former legend of each of these franchises, Roger Clemens.
Hold up however, back up that $155 million contract Brinks truck for a second.
The early going sparked red-flags, with a belt-high and middle-in flatness of his fastball mixed with the inconsistency of his breaking-ball arsenal. It had Tanaka looking less like Yu Darvish 2.0, and more like Chan Ho Park reincarnated.
Make no mistake however, this is not a “roll” of the “Dice-K.” After overcoming his early-struggle demons, those red-flags transformed into pinpoint control, as the future face of Big Apple baseball posted a shutout in the walks category. With Derek Jeter‘s farewell tour heading into the eventual sunset, and the likes of Robinson Cano and Andy Pettite a thing of the past, Tanaka will become the new “Masa-Hero” of the Bronx. Hideo Nomo rides again.
The door for the underground storyline of this tilt did creep open, but Dustin McGowan failed to capitalize. It was a moment that Blue Jays’ fans have been anticipating for years. The Jays’ first round pick in the 2000 Amateur Draft had seemingly made a successful return to resembling the potential once bestowed upon him.
Call it jitters, call it rust, but the fact remains, no matter how equipped your arsenal is warming up in the bullpen or in Spring Training, bringing it to the forefront of game-time is an entirely different animal altogether. On a positive note, there were enough flashes shown to keep the ship sailing, despite his dubious display of eight hits in 2.2 IP.
The city’s basketball victory had the after party on full blast, as for its baseball brother, it has been officially cancelled.