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Pineda makes first big league start since 2011 in Toronto

(SportsNetwork.com) - Michael Pineda steps onto a big league mound for the first time since 2011 Saturday when the New York Yankees continue a three- game series with the Toronto Blue Jays at Rogers Centre.

Pineda hasn't pitched since making the All-Star team as a rookie with the Seattle Mariners three years ago. He was impressive that season, going 9-10 with a 3.74 ERA in 28 starts. In 171 innings pitched that year, he struck out 173 batters while only walking 55.

Seattle, though, shipped him to New York for highly-touted catcher Jesus Montero that offseason. Since then, though, it's been one thing after another for Pineda, who has spent most of the last two years recovering from right labrum surgery.

"I remember like it's yesterday. I remember my last game in Seattle, when the season was over," said Pineda, who hasn't pitched in the majors since Sept. 21, 2011. "I know it's two years, but the time has gone quick."

Pineda was as impressive as any Yankees' pitcher in camp this spring and seized the opportunity to be the team's fifth starter, putting up a 1.20 ERA in 15 innings while striking out 16.

Toronto, meanwhile, will counter with veteran knuckleballer R.A. Dickey, who was far from effective in an Opening Day loss to Tampa Bay. Dickey gave up six runs ands five hits over five innings of that one, but also matched a career- high with six walks.

"I just lost the feel of it there for a little bit," Dickey said of his knuckleball. "I was struggling to find a release point and I just did a poor, poor job of making the in-game adjustments that I needed to make ... I just didn't have the finish on it today and that's part of accepting what the pitch is, it doesn't always cooperate but at the same time I expect a lot more out of myself than that. That was completely my loss."

On Friday, Masahiro Tanaka settled down after a leadoff home run and pitched seven strong innings to help New York to a 7-3 win.

Tanaka (1-0), who was signed in the offseason to a 7-year, $155 million deal after a spectacular few seasons with the Rakuten Golden Eagles of Japan's Pacific League, saw his third pitch belted over the right-center field wall by Melky Cabrera.

The 25-year-old right-hander gave up six hits and three runs -- two earned -- and fanned eight without walking a batter.

"To give us seven innings and be under 100 pitches, he did a really good job," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said.

Yangervis Solarte drove in three runs for the Yankees, whose win may have come at a cost. First baseman Mark Teixeira left the game in the second inning due to a strained right hamstring.

Dustin McGowan (0-1) gave up eight hits and four runs over 2 2/3 innings for the Blue Jays, who got a two-run single from Jonathan Diaz.

"We didn't get a lot of innings last night, and then tonight so you're forced to go to your bullpen," said Blue Jays manager John Gibbons. "He (McGowan) feels fine. He's better than that, and he'll get better than that."

New York won 14 of its 19 matchups with the Blue Jays last season.