Encarnacion HR off Tanaka, Blue Jays beat Yankees in opener

NEW YORK -- Edwin Encarnacion hit a two-run homer off Masahiro Tanaka, and the Toronto Blue Jays beat the New York Yankees 6-1 Monday in Alex Rodriguez's return to the major leagues.

Without retired Derek Jeter in the lineup, an Opening Day crowd at Yankee Stadium reserved its biggest cheers for Rodriguez in his first game back from a year-long drug suspension. Batting seventh, his lowest spot in a regular-season game since 1996, A-Rod singled, walked, and lined out.

Drew Hutchison, at 24 the youngest Opening Day starter in Blue Jays' history, held the Yankees hitless until Brian McCann laced a ball just inside the first base line for a single with two outs in the fourth.

Hutchison (1-0) allowed three hits, including Brett Gardner's homer in the sixth inning, to help Toronto improve to 20-19 in openers, including 1-2 vs. the Yankees.

Last July, Hutchinson helped the Blue Jays snap another skid against New York: a 17-game losing streak in the Bronx.

Ex-Yankee Russell Martin hit a two-run single in a five-run third inning against Tanaka (0-1). Devon Travis homered later in the game for his first career hit.

Shortly before the Yankees ran onto the field for the first time without a member of the Core Four -- Jeter, Mariano Rivera, Andy Pettitte and Jorge Posada -- on the roster since 1995, the AC/DC song with the lyric "Are you ready for the good times" blared over the stadium speakers.

Those good times didn't last long for New York in its 113th opener.

After Tanaka made Toronto look silly with a heavy mix of sliders and splitter for the first two innings, striking out three, the Blue Jays solved him.

Kevin Pillar led off the third with a single and the Japanese star, making his first Opening Day start for New York, struggled to get an out after that.

Travis walked and Jose Reyes put down a bunt that third baseman Chase Headley threw away, allowing a run to score.

After Reyes was checked by a trainer at second base, Martin, who signed an $82 million, five-year free-agent contract this winter, singled. An out later, Encarnacion connected for a 5-0 lead.

The Yankees are counting on Tanaka to find the form that made him an All-Star in his rookie season last year before partially tearing a ligament in his right elbow and missing 2 1/2 months.

But he lasted only four innings Monday, the shortest Opening Day start by a Yankees pitcher since Phil Niekro in 1985, when he went four innings against the Red Sox, according to STATS.

A couple of days after saying he expected the velocity on his fastball down, Tanaka was right. He was regularly in the mid-90s mph last year, and twice hit 93 this time.


Blue Jays: OF Michael Saunders (left knee meniscus) is running on a treadmill and taking swings. Manager John Gibbons said it would be a couple of more weeks before he joined the Blue Jays.

Yankees: Manager Joe Girardi said he will have to be careful to pick A-Rod's days off to keep him fresh and healthy throughout the season. Rodriguez was the DH in the opener.


After a day off, the Blue Jays turn to knuckleballer R.A. Dickey, in the final year of a three-year contract with Toronto. The Yankees send to the mound Michael Pineda, hoping to remain healthy and have his first full season with New York since arriving in a trade with Seattle in January 2012.