Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Ichiro Walks it Off

This was a game decided by long balls. Six of the seven runs scored in this game came via the home run and the Yankees came out on top in that department, belting dour solo home runs to give themselves a walk-off victory in the ninth inning with two outs. Three of the four home runs came from unlikely sources. After Travis Hafner homered in the fourth inning, Brett Gardner hit his seventh home run in the following inning and Jayson Nix followed up Gardner with a home run of his own in the sixth. The Rangers kept scoring one run per inning in the early part of the game but the Yankees were able to answer back every time. The Texas offense tonight came from center fielder Leonys Martin who his only his fourth and fifth home runs of the season. Martin is not a power hitter but for some reason he liked what Kuroda had to offer... twice. With the way the Yankee offense has been slumping recently, this game could have gone either way. Extra innings were on the horizon before Ichiro homered to give the Yankees a much needed comeback win. Despite Ichiro's fantastic career number in the Major Leagues, this was only his second ever walk-off home run. The first of his career came in 2009 against Mariano Rivera where there were also two outs. Rivera said that Ichiro cheated, meaning he started his swing early and was able to hit a laser off the great Mariano. Ichiro did a similar thing today off reliever Scheppers who has been pitching lights out this year. Even after allowing the solo home run to Ichiro, Scheppers has a 1.13 ERA on the season. That is an impressive ERA to have as a pitcher in the big leagues. Not even Mariano Rivera's ERA comes close to that of Scheppers. Long story short: Ichiro can hit. Those April and May struggles have come and gone and Ichiro's average has gone all the way up to .270 after being in the .230's as recently as May. He has really picked up the pace and is beginning to resemble the Ichiro Suzuki of old.

Tonight's much-anticipated pitcher's duel between two Japanese-born players turned out to be a bit of a slug fest despite the game being relatively low scoring. Ichiro went 6.2 strong innings, striking out six but allowed two home runs to Leonys Martin. There will always be one batter in a lineup that a pitcher has trouble with. However, the two home runs didn't hurt the Yankees as they went on to out-slug Martin and the Rangers. Darvish exited the game due to a high pitch count, going 5.1 innings and allowing three runs on seven hits. All three runs came on solo home runs but Darvish wasn't his usual self in tonight's start. Last year when he faced the Yankees in Texas, he almost threw a complete game shutout. Joe Nathan had to finish the job for him but ultimately Darvish pitched a gem. The Yankees figured something out during that span of time and hit rockers into the seats versus Darvish today.

The Yankees win tonight is as sweet as they come as they look to do it again tomorrow night. Andy Pettitte will try once again for win 251 in his illustrious career and he will have to do it against a very potent Rangers lineup featuring Adrian Beltre and Nelson Cruz. The Yankee bats will have to face Justin Grimm who has had an awful season in the ERA department. The young right hander has a 5.57 ERA on the season in thirteen starts.

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