Bronx, NY (SportsNetwork.com) - Alex Rodriguez's return took center stage leading up to the New York Yankees' season opener, but Drew Hutchison and the Toronto Blue Jays ended up stealing the show.
Hutchison's six strong innings and a five-run third off Masahiro Tanaka carried the Blue Jays to a 6-1 Opening Day win in Rodriguez's first major league game since Sept. 25, 2013.
Hutchison (1-0) held the Yankees to three hits, one a solo homer to Brett Gardner, in an impressive first career Opening Day start. The young righty was backed by a big third inning, highlighted by a two-run single from prized offseason pickup Russell Martin and capped by Edwin Encarnacion's two-run homer.
Devon Travis added a solo homer, the rookie second baseman's first major league hit, later on for Toronto.
Rodriguez, back from a league-imposed suspension for the three-time AL MVP's his involvement in the Biogenesis PED scandal, finished 1-for-2 with a walk while serving as New York's designated hitter.
Tanaka (0-1) struck out six over four innings of work and breezed through the first two, but yielded a leadoff single to Kevin Pillar and walked Travis to set the stage for Toronto's eruption in the third.
Jose Reyes followed with a bunt that Yankees third baseman Chase Headley bare- handed and threw wildly to first, enabling Pillar to score and placing two in scoring position. Martin then slapped a single to right to increase the lead to 3-0, and Encarnacion drilled Tanaka's belt-high fastball over the wall in left two batters later.
Four of Tanaka's five runs allowed were earned.
"I just wasn't able to pitch the way I wanted to," said Tanaka through an interpreter. "Just basically missing (my) spots."
Rodriguez, greeted to a mostly warm reception when he stepped to the plate for the first time, became the first Yankee to reach base on Hutchison by working a walk to open the bottom of the third. He delivered a single to right center but was left stranded in the fifth.
New York didn't register its initial hit against Hutchison until Brian McCann singled with two out in the fourth.
"I thought (Martin and I) worked really well together," Hutchison said. "I was able to throw all three of my pitches for strikes. Overall, I think it's a solid start to build off and take us into the season."
Gardner finally got the Yankees on the board with a line-drive shot into the right center-field bleachers to start the bottom of the sixth. Travis answered, however, by depositing Chasen Shreve's pitch into the left-field seats in the seventh for a 6-1 Toronto advantage.
"I don't know if I have the exact words to explain it," said Travis of his homer. "What a day, really. There's nothing else I could really ask for."
New York didn't record another hit after Gardner's homer, with Aaron Loup and Miguel Castro combining for three scoreless innings in relief of Hutchison.
Toronto had lost in 17 of its last 20 games at Yankee Stadium coming in ... The Yankees have now dropped four straight and six of their last seven Opening Day games ... At 24 years, 228 days old, Hutchison became the youngest Opening Day pitcher in Blue Jays history. Todd Stottlemyre was 24 years and 324 days old when he pitched Toronto's 1990 lid-lifter ... Castro, one of six rookies that made the Blue Jays' roster out of spring training, threw the final 1 1/3 innings in his MLB debut ... Tanaka became the fourth Japanese-born hurler to start on Opening Day, joining Hideo Nomo, Daisuke Matsuzaka and former Yankees teammate Hiroki Kuroda ... The teams were meeting for the third time in a season opener, with the Yankees winning the first two matchups.