TORONTO -- Four games.
Even though the Yankees beat the Blue Jays, 7-3, Friday night, that's all it took for thoughts of the bad old days of 2013 to return front and center for Yankees fans, a season torpedoed before it started by injuries.
It is too early to say a repeat journey down that road is forthcoming, but watching Mark Teixeira leave Friday night's game -- which was supposed to be all about Masahiro Tanaka's major-league debut -- in the second inning with a strained right hamstring served as a cold reminder that for all the offseason improvements, the Yankees still have an aging roster. And with age comes increased potential for injury.
Teixeira, who turns 34 next Friday, played only 15 games last season because of a torn tendon sheath in his right wrist. The wrist made it through spring training and the first three games but -- as is typically the case with aging players -- something else can always crop up.
Tanaka's story was a happier one. Though he left his share of pitches up in the early innings -- Melky Cabrera homered on the third pitch of Tanaka's major-league career -- he ended up with a pretty good outing, allowing three runs (two earned) in seven innings. The 25-year-old righty, who struck out eight and walked none, finished with five straight scoreless innings.
"Not the initiation you want,'' pitching coach Larry Rothschild said of the homer, "but I thought he did great with everything.''
"I think it's really impressive,'' Joe Girardi said. "To think about what he's had to deal with all spring training. The attention that's been on him. Covers of magazines. Everywhere he goes, people want to know when he's pitching. That's started Feb. 14. When's his first start. I think he handled it great. I've never seen so many people out there when we were going to stretch [before the game]. I think he did a really good job of controlling his emotions and finding himself after the first couple innings."
Jacoby Ellsbury went 3-for-4 with two doubles and scored two runs. Rookie Yangervis Solarte (two doubles, three RBIs) and Ichiro Suzuki (three hits), each starting for a second straight game after standout efforts in Houston on Thursday night, contributed again. Brett Gardner and Kelly Johnson (triple) also had two hits each as the Yankees picked up 16.
But all of it was overshadowed by the Teixeira situation because a long-term injury would be almost impossible for the club to sustain without making some kind of acquisition.
After Teixeira got hurt, Johnson shifted from third to first and Solarte moved from second to third. In the system, the Yankees' best option is 27-year-old Russ Canzler, their Triple-A first baseman, though they would have to make a move on the 40-man roster to add him.
Teixeira said he felt the strain after fielding a foul ball hit by Cabrera in the second. "I took an awkward step, and when I landed, I felt a grab in my hamstring,'' he said. "This wasn't like getting shot, but it was enough where I definitely felt that pull. We'll see how it feels in the morning."
Girardi said no tests were done on Teixeira and that if any are deemed necessary, they will be done Monday. Said Teixeira, "I'm not super-optimistic about it . . . I'm holding on to the slim hope that tomorrow when I wake up, it's all right, but we'll see."
The Yankees sucked much of the enthusiasm out of the noisy sellout crowd of 48,197 at Rogers Centre by putting two on the board in the first against Blue Jays righthander Dustin McGowan. Ellsbury, hitless the first three games, led off with a double off the wall in center and Carlos Beltran and Teixeira added RBI singles.
No. 9 hitter Jonathan Diaz singled home two runs in the bottom of the second to give Toronto a 3-2 lead.Thanks to a successful replay challenge, the Yankees reclaimed the lead for good in the third on a two-out, two-run double by Solarte. After Girardi got what would have been an inning-ending out call at first base by Dana DeMuth reversed, Solarte's hit made it 4-3.
Ellsbury doubled to lead off the fourth and scored on Brian McCann's single for a 5-3 lead. Gardner had an RBI single in the eighth and Solarte doubled home another run in the ninth.