The firsts are out of the way now for Masahiro Tanaka, who has both his Major League debut and his Yankee Stadium debut in the rearview mirror. The touted right-hander hopes that means his comfort level will only continue to grow from here on out.
Tanaka will make his third big league start on Tuesday, welcoming the Cubs to the Bronx as the two clubs kick off an abbreviated two-game Interleague series on Jackie Robinson Day. Tanaka's starts will always be an event, but now that they are becoming more normal, the 25-year-old has a little bit of experience to draw upon.
"If you look at the first two starts, the beginning of the game, I'm missing my spots and giving up runs," Tanaka said through an interpreter. "I need to make my adjustments, try not to do that. Try to keep the damage to a minimum -- or no damage at all -- at the beginning of the game."
The Cubs will give the ball to Jason Hammel, who is well-versed in the Yankees, having faced them 17 times while pitching for the Rays and Orioles. He's pitched at both old and new Yankee Stadium, too.
"They're a perennial powerhouse and find a way to win, and the organization is committed to their players. That's how they do it," Hammel said. "That being said, there's still a way to beat them. I've faced them many times and had some success. You just have to keep the ball down there."
That's a lesson that Tanaka learned in his last start. The only three runs that Tanaka gave up to the Orioles came on a Jonathan Schoop three-run homer that was launched down the left-field line, responsible for handing Tanaka a no-decision.
"I pride myself on not giving in after giving up runs," Tanaka said. "From the time when I was in Japan, I would always think that if I gave up a run, I would think to myself that I'm not going to give up any more runs. That's what I would always try to remind myself."
Tanaka's early performance has touched upon some franchise history. He is just the second Yankees pitcher in history to strike out at least eight batters in his first two Major League starts, joining Allen Russell of the 1915 club.
"He's adjusted really well so far, for me," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "He's handled the situation pretty well. I'm sure I'll learn more as time goes on, but it's pretty much what I expected, I think."
This series will mark the Cubs' first regular-season games at new Yankee Stadium, the 122nd different ballpark in which the team will have played. After Tuesday, the Cubs will have played a regular-season game in every current Major League city, and a game in every active ballpark.
The Cubs did play the first two games in the history of new Yankee Stadium, however, when the teams met in exhibition action prior to 2009. The Yankees won both games.
"It's one of those bucket list-type places," Hammel said. "Yankee Stadium, it's an eye opener and so much fun to be there." "
Cubs: No. 42 holds special meaning for multiple reasons
The Cubs will wear No. 42 on Tuesday in honor of Jackie Robinson Day, but doing so will have a double meaning for some players. Mariano Rivera was the last player to wear No. 42, retiring from the Yankees at the end of last season.
"He's one of the best people you can ever meet," said Jose Veras, who was Rivera's teammate. "I learned a lot of things from him -- how to be successful, be prepared. He's one of the best people you can ever meet in baseball. You can take a lot of positive things from him."
Veras can use some positive reinforcement. He is no longer the Cubs' closer after a rough four games, and manager Rick Renteria said he will go with matchups in save situations. The candidates include Pedro Strop, Blake Parker, Hector Rondon and Justin Grimm.
"They give me various options," Renteria said. "You still have to put them in situations where they feel comfortable."
Strop and Rondon each have a save in the first 11 games. Last April, the Cubs had three different pitchers record a save in April for the first time since the save became an official MLB statistic in 1969.
Yankees: Mandela to be honored with plaque on Robinson Day
The Yankees announced that they will unveil a plaque to honor Nelson Mandela on Tuesday afternoon, coinciding with the annual celebration of Jackie Robinson Day by Major League Baseball.
Mandela's grandson, Zondwa Mandela, will be present at the stadium, and the Yankees said that South African Consul General George Monyemangene and Nelson Mandela Foundation CEO Sello Hatang will also attend
The Yankees announced their plans for the Mandela plaque last December. The plaque will celebrate the life of the former South African leader and commemorate his June 21, 1990, visit to Yankee Stadium.
Following a day of meeting and addressing New Yorkers in various locations around the city, Mandela arrived at Yankee Stadium and spoke to the assembled crowd, then donned a Yankees cap and jacket before declaring, "You know who I am. I am a Yankee."
• Yankees outfielder Carlos Beltran had three hits, including a two-run homer, in Sunday night's win over Boston. Beltran played first base after an injury to Francisco Cervelli.
• Cervelli (right hamstring) is likely headed to the DL. Brian McCann is day to day with a bruised right hand, but said following Sunday night's game that he was "fine."
• The Cubs restocked the bullpen on Sunday when they recalled Blake Parker from Triple-A Iowa.
Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and read his MLBlog, Bombers Beat. Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.