Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Suzuki Strikes

Walk- Off Homer Gives Yankees 4-3 Win

By Rich Mancuso

BRONX, NEW YORK, JUNE 26- The starting pitching matchup was not the story Tuesday night at Yankee Stadium. Instead six solo home runs combined by the New York Yankees and Texas Rangers was the headline. And the final solo was a walk-off game winner in the ninth from Ichiro Suzuki that paved the way for a 4-3 New York Yankees win.

The second career walk-off by Suzuki, his ninth home run of the season came off a 1-2 pitch off Texas reliever Tanner Scheppers, (5-1) with two outs.

“It’s a great win for us coming off an off day,” said Yankees manager Joe Girardi. "Anyone can contribute, that’s the good thing about this game,” he said about the home run balls hit also by Travis Hafner, Brett Gardner, and Jayson Nix.

The home run ball has not been a part of the Yankees offense this first half of the season with injuries depleting their lineup. But, they were able to connect off Texas starter Yu Darvish who lasted 5.1 innings, giving up seven hits, striking out six.

“They beat us,” commented Texas manager Ron Washington who saw his team end a five-game winning streak. “They (Yankees) swung the bat and they beat us. You hate to lose a ballgame and getting walked off is no different than having a guy single to win it. They beat us with four swings of the bat, four solo home runs.”

New York is in a stretch of 20- consecutive games leading up to the all-star break. The team combined to hit four home runs over their previous 15 games. The solo home runs came from Hafner, Gardner, and Nix in the fourth, fifth and sixth innings.

The Yankees long ball effort over shadowed a matchup on the mound that had two pitchers from Japan facing each other for the 11th time in major league baseball history.

Right hander Hiroki Kuroda, in his 16th start of the season, and coming off a win over the Dodgers last week, allowed three runs (two earned) in 6.21 innings. He allowed five hits, walked one. Two of the runs were solo home runs off the bat of Leonys Martin.

Martin, 2-for-3, had his first career multi-home run game. The first came off a 2-2 pitch from Kuroda in the third inning that gave the Rangers a 1-0 lead. His fifth home run, also a solo off Kuroda, was another 2-2 pitch leading off the fifth inning that went into the right field stands.

“It was a sinker,” he said about the first home run ball to Martin. Kuroda also commented that there wasn’t any special buzz in Japan about the two Japanese pitchers opposing each other again, though he said, “The people are very happy.”

This was the second time Kuroda and the right handed Darvish opposed each other. The first was April 24 of last year and Darvish got the win.

The Yankees were also aided by catcher Chris Stewart who caught two Texas base runners attempting to steal second base. Ian Kinsler was nailed with a runner on in the third inning and Elvis Andrus in the eighth.

Mariano Rivera (1-1) got the win facing four hitters in the ninth and giving up a single.

Left hander Andy Pettitte (5-5) gets the start for New York Wednesday evening opposing (6-5) Justin Grimm.

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