Yanks Split Doubleheader
By Howard Goldin
BRONX, NEW YORK, JUNE 20- Prior to 1958, the rivalry between the three teams in MLB that represented New York City, the Dodgers of Brooklyn, Giants of Manhattan and Yankees of the Bronx, was extremely intense, far more than the current one between the Yankees and Mets.
In the 1950’s, the major argument between the partisans of each club centered on the question of which of the three teams had the best centerfielder in baseball, Mickey Mantle of the Yanks, Willie Mays of the Giants or Duke Snider of the Dodgers. Not surprisingly, each of the three was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame after his career concluded.
To the disgust and anger of the fans of the other 13 teams then in the majors, in one 1- year period, 1949-1958, at least one of the three NYC teams reached the World Series each of those years. Between 1947 and 1956, the Yankees and the Dodgers competed for the World Series title six times, 1947, 1949, 1952, 1953, 1955 and 1956. The two teams met a record 11 times in World Series competition.
The level of interest in the rivalry was such that on May 7, 1959, the largest crowd in MLB history, 93,103, attended an exhibition between them in Los Angeles to honor Roy Campanella.
Much has changed over those many years. There is currently a distance of 3,000 miles between the home ballparks of the two teams. The last World Series during which the two competed against one another took place in 1981. Both teams are now struggling in their respective division races.
The long awaited first visit of the Dodgers to Yankee Stadium for a regular season contest was postponed for one day as Tuesday’s scheduled game was cancelled by rain.
The first of the two games on Wednesday began shortly after 1 p.m. Dodger skipper Don Mattingly, an icon during his 14 fabulous seasons in Yankee pinstripes, received a very warm reception each time his likeness was shown on the giant screen in the outfield or he walked out of the dugout. The familiar chant of “Donnie Baseball” was heard during both games. In a post-game press conference, Mattingly expressed his feelings, “It was kind of cool. I like the roll call. They never had it when I played.”
Several players from Asia made, not surprisingly, extremely impressive performances. Yankees starter Hiroki Kuroda from Japan pitched 6.2 innings while yielding only two runs, both scored in Kuroda’s final inning on the mound. The three runs scored by the Yanks before he departed were the most since his last win on May 17.
Hyun-Jin Ryu from Korea, an MLB rookie, who was signed by the Dodgers on December 12, 2012, only surrendered five hits and two walks in six frames, but the three runs he gave up earned his third loss in 2013.
The first Yankees runs were scored in the third. Thomas Neal and Ichiro Suzuki singled and were driven in on a double by Lyle Overbay. The winning run was produced on a lead-off homer by Ichiro in the sixth. Ichiro’s third base hit was a single in the seventh that accounted for the final two runs in a 6-4 victory.
Ichiro’s fourth multi-hit game in the last six led Yankee manager Joe Girardi to exclaim, “He’s been playing extraordinary.”
Note on the young and the old- Dodger phenom Yasiel Puig, a major leaguer for two weeks and two days, showed the potential for future greatness and the folly of youthful exuberance. The 22 year old Cuban singled in his first at bat, but was thrown out at second trying to stretch. In the seventh, Puig doubled. His two hits in five at bats dropped his batting average to an astounding .472. Mariano Rivera, Puig’s senior by 21 years, recorded his 25th save of the campaign by retiring all three batters he faced in the ninth.
The final out was a strikeout of Puig, who that evening said, “I feel so happy to play against the best. He [Rivera] beat me.”
Chris Capuano, removed earlier in the day from the disabled list, started the night game for the visitors. Although the 34 year-old’s last MLB start was three weeks earlier, he gave up only three singles, two in the infield. He did not walk a batter but fanned four to earn the win.
Mattingly remarked, “[I’m] not surprised that he pitched good but how long.”
Phil Hughes also pitched six, but his outing was far different than his Dodger counterpart. Five of the first six batters in the game singled. Hughes gave up two runs in the first, one in the third and two in the fifth.
Puig, the Cuban sensation, showed his energy and ability in game two of the day. He beat out a bunt in the first; was hit by a pitch and then stole second in the fifth. He hit an opposite field homer off reliever Adam Warren in the seventh. The youngster scored all three times he reached base. His experienced manager commented, “He has a kind of unique set of tools.”
The Tampa Rays begin a four game set on Thursday in the Bronx. Veteran Andy Pettitte (5-4) will face Matt Moore (8-3) of the Rays.