NEW YORK (AP) — Forget the cold. The Chicago Cubs faced a much more difficult challenge in Masahiro Tanaka.
The Cubs managed two bunt singles, one aided by replay, and struck out 10 times against the Japanese rookie in losing 3-0 to New York in the opener of a split doubleheader Wednesday.
“His split-finger is devastating, a lot of bad swings on that and not good contact either, even when guys were putting it in play,” Cubs pitcher Jason Hammel (2-1) said. “Hitters will tell you how good you are, and today he was pretty good.”
Junior Lake bunted toward the third base side with one out in the second, and Tanaka fielded it cleanly. Initially, first base umpire Manny Gonzalez called Lake out but Cubs manager Rick Renteria requested a challenge and the call was overturned.
“The challenge was actually more our eyes told us he was safe. I don’t know how much a challenge it was,” Renteria said. “It was more a consensus of the eyes that he was safe.”
Chicago didn’t reach base again until Anthony Rizzo pushed a bunt toward a vacated third base with a shifted infield leading off the seventh,
The 25-year-old Tanka (2-0), wearing three-quarter sleeves on a 43-degree day that felt much colder because of a brisk wind, threw 107 pitches. Shawn Kelley allowed a single to Rizzo as he finished the three-hitter for his fourth save and Chicago’s third straight loss.
“That split is not something you want to sit on. It’s not something you’re going to be able to handle,” Renteria said. “But, as it was coming out of the hand, as the guys were coming in, they were saying, `Gosh, it looks like a fastball. It ends up diving.'”
Dean Anna had a sacrifice fly and Jacoby Ellsbury added an RBI tap-out against Hammel in Chicago’s first regular-season game in the ballpark, which opened in 2009.
The Cubs have yet to win in the Bronx. They were swept in the 1932 and `38 World Series and lost all three-games in 2005, their only interleague series in New York.
With Tuesday’s rainout postponing Jackie Robinson Day festivities, the Yankees planned to unveil a plaque honoring Nelson Mandela before the nightcap. Players from both teams were to wear No. 42, and Michael Pineda was set to make his first start for New York since he was spotted with a mysterious brown substance on his hand Thursday against Boston. Travis Wood was slated to start for Chicago.
After an overnight storm, the grounds crew used blowers to melt the ice on the tarp before removing the covering from the infield. Snow still covered the grass in right field while the Cubs took batting practice, and many players wore ski caps.
But it wasn’t too cold for Beltran. He connected on a 1-1 changeup from Hammel with one out in the first. Anna started again at shortstop for Derek Jeter and drove in his run with a fly to left field in the fourth.
“Right now I feel good at the plate, and am seeing good results, said Beltran, the current AL player of the week.
New York added a run in the fifth when Lake lost Brett Gardner’s liner to left in the sun for a double. After Gardner advanced on Beltran’s groundout, Ellsbury’s bat made contact with catcher John Baker’s glove before dunking a ball in front of the mound. Catcher’s interference was called but under rule 6.08 (c), the Yankees had the choice to reject the interference call – it would have put runners at the corners – and take the play as it unfolded on the field. The elected for the latter, with Gardner scoring and Ellsbury tagging out by Hammel.
“With one out you take the run,” Girardi said.
Tanaka gave up six runs – five earned – in his first two starts combined, all before the third inning was over. This time he was sharp from the start. He walked his second batter this season and lowered his ERA to 2.05 ERA.
Hammel was nearly as good. He yielded three runs and five hits, striking out five.
NOTES: The Cubs will celebrate the 100th anniversary of the first game at Wrigley on April 23. The first 30,000 fans will receive a replica 1914 Chicago Federals jersey. The first 10,000 will get a birthday cupcake. Greeters will wear period clothing in greeting the fans and the Northwestern University marching band will play. Former players and team owners will be honored in a pregame ceremony that will be attended by baseball Commissioner Bud Selig. … The Yankees swept two exhibition games from the Cubs at the new stadium before opening day in `09. … Renteria asked for a second review on a close play at first base in the seventh but replay umpire ruled the play stood as called on the field because of a lack of conclusive evidence to overturn the call.