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The Grand Slam: Masahiro Tanaka rebounds from slow start to win MLB debut

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MASAHIRO TANAKA CLOSES STRONG IN FIRST MLB WIN: After a dubious start that saw former Yankees outfielder Melky Cabrera homer on his third pitch, Masahiro Tanaka rebounded nicely to complete seven strong innings in the Yankees' 7-3 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays.

Tanaka was also touched for two runs in the second, though one was unearned following a Mark Teixeira error, but from that point forward he was brilliant, facing only one batter over the limit in his final four innings.

Said manager Joe Girardi, courtesy of Newsday:

“I think it’s really impressive. To think about what he’s had to deal with all spring training. The attention that’s been on him. Covers of magazines. Everywhere he goes, people want to know when he’s pitching. That’s started Feb. 14. When’s his first start. I think he handled it great. I’ve never seen so many people out there when we were going to stretch. I think he did a really good job on controlling his emotions and finding himself after the first couple innings.”

Tanaka finished the game with six hits allowed and eight strikeouts. But perhaps the most notable number was the zero in the walk column. It was an efficient outing, and a clear indicator of why he enjoyed so much success — 24-0 with a 1.27 ERA for the Rakuten Golden Eagles last season — during his time in Japan.

Oh, and in case you're wondering, his next start will come Wednesday evening at Yankee Stadium against the Baltimore Orioles.

YOU'RE A GOOD MAN, CHARLIE BLACKMON: The Colorado Rockies are playing musical chairs in center field this season, but may be motivated to stick with Charlie Blackmon following a historic 6-for-6 effort in their home opener against the Diamondbacks. The 27-year-old Blackmon — who sports one of the most underrated beards in baseball — doubled and scored in the first, singled and scored in the third, hit a two-run home run in the fourth, doubled in the sixth, hit an RBI single and scored in the seventh, and capped his afternoon with a double in the eighth.

''When you get an opportunity to play, it's really nice to come up and contribute,'' said Blackmon.

His bid for the elusive triple and cycle fell just short as both of his late doubles got beyond the outfielders but not far enough to realistically attempt it.

While Blackmon paced the 12-2 Rockies win, he also received help from Carlos Gonzalez, who homered, tripled and drove in four. But even the man known as Cargo only wanted to talk about Blackmon.

''I don't think I ever hit 6 for 6 in my life,'' Gonzalez said. ''I'm happy for him. He's proving to everybody he deserves to be in the big leagues and every day in the lineup.''

According to Troy Renck of the Denver Post, Blackmon's six hits in a game tied the Rockies franchise record set by Andres Galarraga on July 3, 1995.

ANGELS AND METS GET IN WIN COLUMN: The last of the winless teams finally broke through on Friday. After being swept at home by the Mariners, the Los Angeles Angels clobbered three homers — including one each from Mike Trout, Josh Hamilton and Kole Calhoun — in an 11-1 trouncing of the Houston Astros. Meanwhile, the New York Mets topped the Cincinnati Reds 4-3 behind two home runs from Lucas Duda.

MORE INJURY WOES FOR TEXAS: Left-hander Joe Saunders was forced to leave his Rangers debut in the fourth inning after being stuck on the ankle by an Evan Longoria line drive. Saunders was diagnosed with a bruise, which is good news all things considered, but may setback preparation for his next. The bad news? He also took the loss after allowed five runs on six hits. The Rangers fell to the Rays. 8-1.

For the rest of Friday's MLB scores, check out our scoreboard.

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Mark Townsend is a writer for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at bigleaguestew@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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