New York Yankees (Masahiro Tanaka 0-0, vs. Detroit Tigers (Justin Verlander (8pm ET Sunday, ESPN)
Masahiro Tanaka pitched well enough to get a no-decision in his 2016 debut against the Astros on opening day, going five-and-two-thirds innings, giving up just two runs on four hits and a walk while striking out four. Tanaka headed into the fifth nursing a 2-1 lead and quickly got past Jose Altuve and George Springer before giving up a long home run to right center by reigning Rookie of the Year Carlos Correa. A walk to the next batter, Colby Rasmus, was enough for Yankee manager Joe Girardi, who pulled Tanaka and turned it over to the pen. Three innings later, Correa and Rasmus were again making trouble for the Bombers as the former reached on an error that allowed Altuve to score while the latter walked, setting up a two-run single by Luis Valbuena off Dellin Betances and setting the stage for a 5-3 Astros win.
Justin Verlander made his eighth opening day start in nine years on Tuesday, and went five-and-one-third innings before giving up his first hit – a double to Dee Gordon – before the wheels quickly fell off. A Marcell Ozuna single followed, scoring Gordon. Then, came a strikeout of Christian Yellich followed by a two-run bomb off the bat of Giancarlo Stanton, and with that, Verlander was done and hitting the showers with a 5-3 lead. Unfortunately, Frankie Rodriguez came on in the ninth looking to close out a 7-4 game, but promptly gave up three runs on a single, sac fly and three doubles. But Ian Kinsler bailed him out in the 11th, driving in Anthony Gose for an 8-7 win. After the 2013 season, Verlander appeared to be on a Hall-of-Fame track. In 2014, he he suffered through a rough season as his ERA soared to 4.54 and he gave up a career high .756 OPS and 346 total bases. Over his final 11 starts last season, he appeared to have made the kind of adjustments a guy in his early 30s needs to when he’s lost a little something off their fastball; he went 76 and one-third innings, striking out 73 with a 0.96 WHIP and a 2.12 ERA. Which Justin Verlander will we see throughout 2016? It’s too early to tell.