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Masahiro Tanaka struggles as Yankees fall to Blue Jays on Opening Day

Masahiro Tanaka #19 of the New York Yankees

Masahiro Tanaka #19 of the New York Yankees looks on after giving up a third-inning two-run base hit against the Toronto Blue Jays during Opening Day at Yankee Stadium on Monday, April 6, 2015. Photo Credit: Jim McIsaac

Joe Girardi didn't seem to like the question.

Before Monday's season opener, a reporter asked Girardi about Masahiro Tanaka's comments from two days earlier about pitching with slightly less velocity this season.

"Let's just wait and see what happens," Girardi said dismissively. "There's so much talk about it but until guys get out there. [I'm] just going to watch and see what happens."

What happened wasn't pretty.

After two scoreless innings, Tanaka lost it over the next two in a 6-1 loss to the Blue Jays in front of a sellout Stadium crowd of 48,469 that probably took the traditional axiom that follows an Opening Day loss -- "Still 161 to go . . ." -- as more threat than solace.

"It's one game," Girardi said afterward. "I won't make too much out of it."

The Yankees, featuring a roster filled with questions entering the season, didn't do much to alleviate their fans' concerns. The Bombers didn't swing the bats, collecting just three hits, and saw third baseman Chase Headley commit a key error during the Blue Jays' five-run third.

Derek Jeter's replacement, Didi Gregorius, made a couple of nice throws but made the final out of the eighth, with another runner aboard and Mark Teixeira at the plate, with an ill-advised steal attempt of third.

"It was a bad mistake by me," said Gregorius, who went 0-for-2. "It won't ever happen again."

Tanaka allowed five runs, four earned, all in the third inning, and five hits. But the 26-year-old righthander, who missed 2 1/2 months last season rehabbing a slight tear of the ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow, entered the afternoon on a pitch count of about 90, was gone after four innings and 82 pitches, 50 of them strikes. Tanaka, whom pitching coach Larry Rothschild said is "still building arm strength" after being brought along slowly during spring training, struck out six and walked two.

"I was in bad counts and obviously that's going to give the advantage to the batters," Tanaka said through his interpreter, insisting, as Girardi and Rothschild did, that he is physically fine.

Blue Jays righthander Drew Hutchison (1-0) was as sharp as Tanaka was erratic, allowing one run and three hits in six innings.

One of them was a line-drive single in the fifth by Alex Rodriguez, who heard, other than some spotty booing during pregame introductions, loud cheers all afternoon. A-Rod went 1-for-2 with a walk.

"I'm just grateful for the reception I got," A-Rod said. "I love our fans."

Hutchison, 24, did not allow a hit until Brian McCann's two-out single in the fourth. Teixeira preceded the single with a walk but Headley could not extend the inning, grounding out.

The Yankees got on the board against Hutchison in the sixth when Brett Gardner led off with a homer to make it 5-1.

Rookie Devon Travis' solo shot off lefthander Chasen Shreve in the sixth made it 6-1.

The critical inning was the third. Kevin Pillar pulled a single down the third-base line past a diving Headley and Tanaka went to 3-and-0 to the No. 9 hitter, Travis, before walking him on five pitches. Reyes then laid down a bunt that a charging Headley fielded cleanly but threw wide of first, the ball skipping into foul ground for an error that sent Pillar home and Reyes to second.

"I just made a poor throw," Headley said.

Former Yankees catcher Russell Martin smashed a first-pitch, 93-mph fastball to right for a two-run single that made it 3-0.

After Bautista flew to left, Tanaka fell behind Encarnacion 2-and-1 before throwing a flat, belt-high fastball the first baseman sent deep into the seats in left-center for a two-run homer that made it 5-0 and sucked any remaining excitement from the day right out of the stadium.

Still, of course, it is just one of 162 . . .

"This team does have a good feel to it," A-Rod said. "I've played on a lot of great team and this feels like a team that has a lot of potential."


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