No reason to think that Tanaka signing wasn't good call by Yankees

Yankees starting pitcher Masahiro Tanaka gestures on the

Yankees starting pitcher Masahiro Tanaka gestures on the mound against the Baltimore Orioles in an MLB baseball game at Yankee Stadium on Wednesday, April 9, 2014. (Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke)

Orioles centerfielder Adam Jones talked a lot on Tuesday.

Jones' comments about how fans who run on the field should be repeatedly Tased got the most attention. But Jones also had some interesting things to say about Yankees pitcher Masahiro Tanaka.

Basically, Jones said Tanaka was great in Japan, but this is not Japan. Jones wanted to see what the hype was all about before anointing Tanaka as an ace in this country. Three swings and misses later in the first inning, Jones saw for himself.

Splitter. Splitter. Two swings and misses. After two balls, a 94-mph fastball. Swing. Miss.

Strikeout.

Tanaka wasn't perfect in his first Yankee Stadium start. He allowed a three-run homer to Jonathan Schoop in the second inning. But that was all he allowed in a seven-inning outing that included 10 strikeouts and 22 swings and misses -- six by Jones.

Jones, the Orioles' cleanup hitter, also struck out in the third on Tanaka's signature pitch, an 87-mph splitter. Jones singled back through the box in the fifth, one of seven hits given up by Tanaka, who also walked one.

Tanaka left after seven innings and 101 pitches with the score tied at 3. He got stronger as the game went on, retiring his last seven batters. Given the high pitch counts Tanaka was used to in Japan, he probably could have pitched another inning, but that's not how the game is played here.

How the game is played here vs. there was the subject of Jones' other comments. On Tuesday, Jones told Newsday's Steven Marcus: "Why don't you ask Tanaka about me? I'm the one who's been over here in the major leagues for a while. Congratulations, he did it over there. Don't make it like he's the dirtiest guy in the world."

By "dirtiest" Jones was referring to Tanaka's stuff. After two outings, it's obvious Tanaka has a good enough fastball, an excellent splitter and an effective slider -- except for the hanging one he threw to No. 9 hitter Schoop, who crushed it just inside the foul pole in left for a 3-0 lead.

Jones was impressed by Tanaka, praising his "good stuff," but was not interested in fueling Tanakamania.

"Am I [supposed] to go home and say I faced Tanaka tonight?" he said. "Just go throw a party that I faced Tanaka? It's another pitcher. Another pitcher in the rotation. Nothing special to me. It's just another guy that we have to go through to get to where we want to be."

Wednesday night, Tanaka took the mound to polite applause from the 39,412 on hand on a chilly evening. As he warmed up, a bubble-gum sweet song from the pop group Momoiro Clover Z -- the Spice Girls of Japan -- played on the stadium speakers.

The Yankees spent $175 million on Tanaka -- $155 million in salary and a $20 million posting fee -- but can hope to recoup some of that with the increased attention Tanaka will bring here and in his home country.

How much is up for debate, though. According to TiqIQ, an online ticket aggregator, there was no pent-up demand to see Tanaka Wednesday night on the secondary market. Prices for the game dropped Wednesday and all week, which is typical for an April weekday night game with a starting temperature of 54 degrees.

TV ratings are another matter. According to a YES spokesman, Tanaka's first big-league start on Friday averaged 486,000 total viewers (for a 4.85 average TV household rating).

Is that good? YES, it is. Tanaka's game was the highest-rated one on YES since October 2012, meaning it out-rated every game from 2013, including Mariano Rivera's Yankee Stadium farewell.

No doubt many of the curious Wednesday night decided to skip the trip to the Bronx and watch in the comfort of their living rooms. Good call. And there's no reason to think so far that the Yankees signing Tanaka wasn't a good call, either.

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