Heads up: Tanaka set for season debut vs. Red Sox

MLB Baseball

One of the scariest moments of summer camp for the New York Yankees occurred during the first workout on July 4 when Masahiro Tanaka was hit in the head by Giancarlo Stanton’s line drive.

Four weeks later, Tanaka is ready to make his season debut. He will be on the mound Saturday night when the Yankees host the Boston Red Sox.

Tanaka was diagnosed with a mild concussion after Stanton’s 112 mph liner struck him on the right temple. After getting hit, Tanaka was motionless on the ground for about 10 minutes and sent to a nearby hospital.

Tanaka’s final steps toward returning occurred when he pitched in a simulated game in Moosic, Pa., on Sunday when he threw about two innings.

“I’m feeling good, no problems at all,” Tanaka said through an interpreter Friday. “I’m not sure how many pitches I’ll be given, so I’ll guess we’ll see.”

When Tanaka was hurt, there was not a protective netting. On Saturday, he will be wearing a protective insert in his hat.

Tanaka, starting his seventh season in New York, was 11-9 with a 4.45 ERA in 32 appearances (31 starts) last season.

The right-hander is 8-5 with a 5.76 ERA in 21 career starts against the Red Sox. Last season, he was 0-1 with a 24.75 ERA in three starts against Boston, and in the past two seasons, he owns a 12.67 ERA against the Red Sox.

Tanaka will be taking the mound after the Yankees opened the series with a 5-1 victory on Friday. Aaron Judge homered for the third straight game while Gio Urshela and Brett Gardner also connected, giving the Yankees 12 homers through the first six games.

The New York offense wasn’t affected by the lack of fans at the home opener on Friday.

“Very different,” Judge said of playing in an empty stadium. “We enjoyed it. We were locked in and ready to go from the first pitch.”

The Red Sox were unable to follow up two straight wins at Citi Field over the New York Mets, losing for the ninth time in their past 10 meetings with the Yankees. Michael Chavis homered but the Red Sox hit into three double plays as J.D. Martinez, Rafael Devers and Christian Vazquez were a combined 0-for-10.

While Vazquez is batting .348, Devers is 5-for-29 (.172) and Martinez is 7-for-32 (.219).

“It would be nice for one of us to get going a little a bit,” said Martinez, who was 5-for-9 in the first two games of the season.

The Red Sox hope Martinez and some of their other slumping hitters can get going in support of Zack Godley, who starts Saturday.

Godley made a case to be included in the rotation when he pitched four scoreless innings Monday in Boston’s 7-4 loss to the New York Mets. The right-hander threw 53 pitches to 16 hitters, and he could be stretched out a little further.

“It’s exciting,” Godley said. “That (Yankees) lineup speaks for itself. They do what they do night in, night out. The biggest thing is trying to get ground balls.”

Godley will be making his first start since June 22, 2019, when he pitched for the Arizona Diamondbacks against the San Francisco Giants. His only appearance against the Yankees came on Aug. 8, 2019, for the Toronto Blue Jays when he allowed three runs in three innings out of the bullpen.

–Field Level Media

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