Baseball / MLB

Yankees waste Masahiro Tanaka's effort

Kyodo, AP

Masahiro Tanaka pitched 6⅔ effective innings, but the right-hander was hurt by a lack of run support in the New York Yankees’ 3-1 defeat to the Detroit Tigers on Tuesday evening.

Tanaka, who threw on four days’ rest after winning his opening-day start, scattered eight hits but limited the damage to a lone run in the sixth, when he allowed back-to-back doubles to Jeimer Candelario and John Hicks that tied the game at 1-all.

Tanaka overcame an early scare in the first and fourth innings, both times escaping the jam with runners on the corners, and had command of his slider-dominant pitches as he struck out seven and walked none at Yankee Stadium.

“Even in high-leverage situations I was able to stay focused,” said Tanaka, who was not involved in the decision.

“I was looking for an early-count strike. I wanted to get ahead in the count and be aggressive with my pitches,” he said.

He threw 87 pitches, 63 for strikes, and was relieved by Adam Ottavino with two outs in the seventh.

In the top of the ninth, Dustin Peterson doubled off Yankees closer Aroldis Chapman (0-1) for the go-ahead run, and one out later Jordy Mercer added a run-scoring single for insurance. It was the first major league hit for Peterson, the Tigers’ rookie outfielder.

“I don’t think I would change a thing,” said 24-year-old Peterson, who made his big league debut with Atlanta last May. “I will never forget this, that’s for sure.”

Jordy Mercer added an RBI single for insurance, and the Tigers got another strong start from Jordan Zimmermann after he took a perfect game two outs into the seventh on opening day in Toronto last week.

This time, Zimmermann limited a makeshift Yankees lineup depleted by injuries to one run in 6⅔ innings.

“He just really doesn’t give them much time to breathe,” Detroit manager Ron Gardenhire said. “He’s got good stuff, he’s healthy and he’s really throwing the ball well.”

The right-hander from Wisconsin pitched in short sleeves while other players bundled up on a 45-degree (7 Celsius) night in the Bronx. He struck out six and walked one.

Joe Jimenez (1-0) worked a hitless eighth for the win.

The Yankees’ only run came in the second inning, when Clint Frazier hit a sacrifice fly after Mike Tauchman doubled for his first hit with New York. The Yankees acquired Tauchman from the Colorado Rockies last month.

Phillies 8, Nationals 2

In Washington, Bryce Harper crushed a long home run for his third hit while performing to jeers in his return to D.C., and the Philadelphia Phillies beat the Nationals 8-2 Tuesday night for the franchise’s best start in over a century.

Maikel Franco also homered for the Phillies, baseball’s only undefeated team at 4-0. They had only done that in 1915 and 1897.

Harper left Washington after playing 927 games over seven years, participating in six All-Star Games and winning the 2015 NL MVP Award. He listened to what the Nationals had to offer, then signed a $330 million, 13-year contract with the rival Phillies in February.

Harper hasn’t wasted any time providing returns for the investment. He has three homers and five RBIs in four games, along with a .429 batting average. He drove in three Tuesday.

Booed during every at-bat, Harper thumped a “take that,” 458-foot (140-meter) shot in the eighth inning off Jeremy Hellickson. As the ball soared toward the second deck in right field, Harper flipped his bat and circled the bases with delight before celebrating with his new teammates in the visiting dugout.

When Philadelphia’s starting lineup was announced during the late stages of a 41-minute rain delay, it became apparent Harper would not be welcomed back warmly.

Many in the slow-arriving crowd of 35,920 booed loudly when his name was announced as the No. 3 hitter, and the derisive shouting continued during a video montage of his biggest moments with the Nationals.

“That’s sports,” Harper said about the reception. “That’s part of the game.”

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