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Wednesday, June 19, 2013
Rapid Reaction: Yanks 6, Dodgers 4 (Gm. 1)

By Wallace Matthews



NEW YORK -- The Yankees, who suffered through a five-game losing skid on the West Coast, are now on a modest two-game win streak -- at the expense of both Los Angeles franchises -- after beating the Dodgers 6-4 at Yankee Stadium in the first game of a day-night doubleheader.

What it means: That the Dodgers' return to the Bronx after a 32-year absence was not quite as pleasant as the last time they were here, celebrating the end of the 1981 World Series.

Good enough: Hiroki Kuroda got hit hard, allowing eight hits and several loud outs, but left the game in the seventh inning having allowed just two runs, helped in part by his own defense (see below). Kuroda improved his record to 7-5. His ERA stays at 2.78.

Ichi-bomb: Ichiro Suzuki's third homer of the year, a line drive just inside the right-field foul pole, gave the Yankees a 3-0 lead in the sixth.

Ichi-tap: An inning later, Ichiro reached out and tapped a Paco Rodriguez offering just onto the grass in short left, scoring two runs to extend the Yankees' lead to 6-2. His three RBIs were one more than he had had in the previous 18 days of June.

Ichi-leap: To cap off his big day, Ichiro made a leaping catch up against the right-field wall on Adrian Gonzalez's eighth-inning drive.

Lyle Overhead: Lyle Overbay's second-inning double, blasted over the head of Dodgers center fielder Andre Ethier, scored Thomas Neal and Ichiro (singles) to give the Yankees a 2-0 lead.

Comedy of errors: Dodgers reliever Ronald Belisario provided some belly laughs in the seventh, committing two errors on one play that should have been an easy out. First, with runners on first and second and one out, Belisario misplayed Vernon Wells' soft pop fly back to the mound. Then, after hesitating, Belisario decided to throw to second for the force out -- and fired into center field, allowing the Yankees' fourth run to score and earning Belisario a rare two E's on one play.

Look what I found: Kuroda and the Yankees got a lucky break when, after the Dodgers got runners to second and third on a hard-hit single by Gonzalez and a double by Hanley Ramirez, Ethier lined one back through the box that Kuroda was able to snag and fire to third for a crucial double play. Juan Uribe grounded out to end the inning and the Yankees escaped without allowing a run.

There is a K in Kelley: A lot of them, in fact. Shawn Kelley, the pitcher with the highest strikeout ratio on the team, got a big one to end the seventh inning, blowing a 92 mph fastball on the corner past Nick Punto with Dodgers at first and second and the Yankees clinging to a 3-2 lead. Kelley now has 41 K's in 26 2/3 innings.

Wild man: Called in to bail out Preston Claiborne in the eighth, David Robertson walked the first two hitters he faced before getting Skip Schumaker to foul out and A.J. Ellis to force out to end the inning.

Bronx cheers: Dodgers manager Don Mattingly was treated like a returning hero by the sparse Game 1 crowd, his name being cheered in pregame intros and during a video tribute shown between innings. He also received that highest of compliments, a roll call from the Bleacher Creatures, who did the same for Nick Swisher on his return as a Cleveland Indian earlier this month.

Impact player: Sensational rookie Yasiel Puig, who got the second-loudest Dodgers ovation after Mattingly's, scorched the ball in each of his first two at-bats, singling but getting thrown out when he ill-advisedly tried to stretch against Brett Gardner's throwing arm, and lining out deep to center to end the third inning. In the eighth, Puig successfully stretched another single, barely beating Gardner's throw to second. Even striking out for the last out of the game against Mariano Rivera (save No. 25), Puig was the most exciting player on the field all day.

Manly Ramirez: Ramirez was 4-for-4, including a rocket of a two-run HR off Claiborne that cut the Yankees' lead to 6-4 in the eighth. Ramirez missed 52 games with a thumb injury suffered in the WBC and a hamstring strain suffered after he came back, but is hitting .343 with two homers and 12 RBIs in the 13 games he has played.

Dem Bums: The Dodgers lived up to their advance billing, committing four errors and blowing several good scoring chances

What's next: Game 2 in about three hours, Phil Hughes (3-5, 4.89) vs. Chris Capuano.