Last night’s Yankee win against the Brewers was a tale of two rookies who could not have more disparate back stories. Masahiro Tanaka came from Japan carrying 155 million dollars worth of expectations. Conversely, Yangervis Solarte came to the Yankees as a cast-off from the Texas Rangers organization. The 26-year-old, career minor leaguer wasn’t even expected to make the team.
Tanaka picked up the victory last night, out dueling Milwaukee’s ace Yovani Gallardo to lift his record to a perfect 5-0. With injuries to Nova and Pineda and inconsistent starts from CC and Kuroda, the Yankees have needed Tanaka to be an ace right away. There has been no time for an adjustment period and luckily the composed Japanese right-hander hasn’t needed one.
“Never Nervous Yangervis,” as loquacious radio broadcaster John Sterling calls him, provided the bulk of the Yankee offense with a 3 run homer off Gallardo. The blast gave Solarte an unlikely, team leading 18 RBIs. After slumping for a couple of weeks, it is an encouraging sign that the rookie has 5 hits in his last 12 at bats.
It is difficult to predict whether or not Solarte will be able to sustain this level of success. Yankees fans can remember too many players such as Kevin Maas and Shane Spencer who eventually faltered after magical beginnings to their careers.
I don’t believe there should be any concerns as to the validity of Tanaka’s excellent start. From the day he arrived in camp, Tanaka has shown the type of confidence, poise, and talent to suggest that the immense hype he received was warranted.
It is hard to imagine where the Yankees would be this year without their two star rookies. If the Bombers plan on contending for a title they will need much improved production from their veterans in both the starting rotation and the line-up. For one night against Milwaukee, the heroics of young Tanaka and Solarte proved to be enough.