Showing posts with label Ichiro Suzuki. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Ichiro Suzuki. Show all posts

Monday, April 14, 2014

Yankees Sock it to Boston

Yankees Sock it to Boston

Yanks Put to Rest Some Questions with Dominance of Red Sox, Ejection of Manager John Farrell

By Rich Mancuso

BRONX, NEW YORK, APRIL 14- The rivalry changed a bit when the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox met for the first time in the Bronx the past three days. The Yankees, a team with questions will take what they accomplished after their 3-2 win Sunday night taking three of four games from their rivals.

This early in the season, and with questions about a Yankees bullpen that is being tested, they conquered. Matt Thornton, David Phelps and Shawn Kelley closed the door with David Robertson on the disabled list. It was intense baseball in the Bronx and from the looks of these first four of 19-games that will be played between these division rivals, there will be more intensity.

And count on a little of everything, including spectacular defense that came from the Yankees outfield. With a decimated infield, plagued by injuries, Carlos Beltran was shifted from right-field to first base in the top of the fifth because of an injury to Francisco Cervelli.

Cervelli, will likely go on the disabled list. Sunday night, Beltran went 3-for-4 including a home run, single and a double He has been everything the Yankees wanted in their lineup, perhaps something they did not have last year when the Red Sox dominated New York.

"I didn't have a whole lot of choices tonight," said manager Joe Girardi about putting Beltran in at first for the injured Cervelli. "Just tells you the type of player he is. Willing to do anything you ask him to do.”

He added, “Very, very unselfish."

Beltran is that type of player. He was one of the four players the Yankees purchased for over $450 million to get them back to October. But, with the Yankees decimated with injuries in the infield, Beltran was pressed into service and was put in the infield for the first time in his career.

It was another dimension to this rivalry, a new one that has developed. The Red Sox don’t resemble the team that went on to win a World Series last October. And the Yankees, without Derek Jeter this night ,were pressed to do something and Beltran did not say no.

"Thank God nobody hit the baseball to me," said Beltran. He made three putouts and without Mark Teixeira, on the disabled list with a right hamstring pull, Girardi may not hesitate to put Beltran at first again.

“We have to do what it takes," Beltran said. I hope I don't have to do it again." The Yankees are doing what they have to do, 13-games into a young season. He has homered in consecutive games since May 28-29 of last season against Kansas City when he was with the Cardinals.

The Yankees scored their third run in the fourth inning. The new instant replay rule went to their benefit and caused the ejection of Boston Manager John Farrell. Cervelli was ruled safe on a bang-bang play at first. Girardi challenged.

Farrell contested the change of a call that enabled the Yankees to get what was a decisive run in what could have been an inning ending double-play. Under the new rule a play overturned is not supposed to be argued by a manager, hence the ejection. More, so the Yankees got the benefit and the rivalry got more intense.

So much of what transpired renewed a rivalry that seemed to disappear last season. Ichiro Suzuki, replacing Beltran in right, crashed into the outfield wall and made a spectacular catch that took an extra base hit away from David Ortiz in the eighth inning.

And by the eighth inning, with Mike Napoli on second, after a double to left that the Yankees’ Brett Gardner did his best to get, the Yankee Stadium crowd could be heard again, as it was when this rivalry was so intense.

Phelps, part of the mix and match late combination out of the Yankees pen walked Daniel Nava on a pitch that was low. A.J. Pierzynski got hit by a pitch that loaded the bases. Mike Carp off the bench after going behind 2-0 on the count went after a breaking ball and swung at strike three.

Then Kelley, in a role as one of the closers, sent the Red Sox packing in the ninth. It is only April, but these games are so important in a division that will be contested also with Tampa Bay.

“You know the division and wild card come down to one run,” said Girardi who always said these games are important now. However, if the Yankees want to be there in late September, they need to stay healthy. And they need good pitching as Ivan Nova got his second win in 7.1 innings. He struck out four on eight-hits and one of the Boston runs off Napoli’s third home run in the sixth.

“I thought he had a better command of his curveball tonight and that was a difference,” commented Girardi. In his last outing, Nova gave up seven runs and 10-hits in 3-2/3 innings to Baltimore.

The type of game on Sunday night that revived a rivalry in the Bronx and the Yankees, with an off Monday have a day to recuperate before welcoming the Chicago Cubs for a two-game interleague series.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Mr. 4,000

Ichiro Suzuki Becomes the 4,000 Hit Man

By Howard Goldin

BRONX, NEW YORK, AUGUST 22- Ichiro Suzuki reached a baseball milestone that has been accomplished by only two men in baseball history, Pete Rose and Ty Cobb.

Suzuki’s single to left field in the first inning of Wednesday night’s encounter between the Yankees and the Toronto Blue Jays was his 4,000th hit in professional baseball.
As was done more than a half-century ago when Roger Maris hit his 61st home run in a single season, some baseball observers will try to demean the outstanding and rare accomplishment by saying 1,278 of the 4,000 hits were achieved in Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB) and should not be added to his Major League Baseball (MLB) totals.

Suzuki’s ability and his achievements on the baseball field in Japan and the United States should earn him enshrinement in the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown as soon as he is eligible.

Although Ichiro will not be 40 until October, his long baseball journey started as a young boy under the strict direction of his father. His decision to pursue professional baseball as his calling began before he reached his teenage years. He excelled in Little League baseball and on his high school team.

His statistics, thus far, in each nation and collectively in both are superlative and show his superiority as a player regardless of the competition.

His batting average as a member of the Orix Blue Wave for nine seasons was .355. From his first full season, 1994, through his last year in Japanese pro ball, 2000, Ichiro, in all seven seasons, was a NPB All-Star, a Pacific League (PL) batting champion, a winner of the Best Nine Award, and a Golden Glove recipient. He was also the PL MVP in the first three of those magnificentseasons.

Neither the cultural change nor the level of the play in the major leagues prevented the first position player from Japan from excelling in MLB as he had in Japan. In his first year with the Seattle Mariners (2001), he was elected Rookie-of-the-Year and MVP of the American League.

In each of his first 10 seasons in MLB, Ichiro was a Gold Glove winner and a member of the A.L. All-Star Team.

His extreme versatility on the baseball field has been displayed by watching him every day and by the numerous and varied awards he earned, batting champion, stolen base leader, Silver Slugger Award winner and, of course, 17 consecutive years, in both nations, of the Gold(en) Glove as recognition of his defensive superiority as an outfielder.

Ichiro in a post-game press conference expressed the importance to him of being an all-around expert ballplayer, “As an amateur, I thought you had to be good in everything to be a professional. Then I found out that wasn’t true. I’ve always taken pride in all the things that happen in baseball. I work very hard. I want to be able to do all the things at a high level.”

Not only has Ichiro excelled in Japan and the United States, but he led the National Team from Japan to the Gold Medal in the first two sessions of the World Baseball Classic (WBC), 2006 and 2009.

After Ichiro reached first base on Wednesday, all the Yankees players left their dugout and came onto the field to congratulate their great teammate on his rare accomplishment. The fans in the stands rose to cheer him. His countryman, Munenori Kawasaki, the Toronto third baseman was also applauding while standing at his infield position.

Ichiro, who always conducts himself as a serious professional, was more impressed by the supportive reaction of others than his own achievement, “I thought this number was just special to me. I wasn’t expecting what happened today, so much joy and happiness from them [teammates and fans]. I was really overwhelmed. The game was stopped for me. I was so happy and overjoyed with how they supported me. When I look back on this, what makes it important is that my teammates came out.”
Now that he has 2,722 hits in the majors, Ichiro was asked if his goal was to reach 3,000 hits. His response exhibits his professional mindset, “I can’t have that as a goal. What happens today determines what happens tomorrow.”

The consummate professional intends to prepare to do his best every day. One who is fortunate to watch him once or on a regular basis is seeing one of the all-time best players who brings credit upon the sport.