Wednesday, June 19, 2013
Ichiro's big day carries Yanks
By Matt Ehalt
NEW YORK -- The Ichiro Suzuki manning right field for the Yankees on Wednesday was the one the Yankees hoped for when they signed him to a two-year, $13-million deal this offseason.
With his bat, he propelled the Yankees offensively.
With this glove, he robbed the Dodgers of a big inning.
Ichiro Suzuki six-inning home run and great fielding helped the Yankees beat the Dodgers in the first game of the doubleheader.
Suzuki went 3-for-4 with a season-high three RBIs, and also had a fantastic catch in the Yankees 6-4 win over the Dodgers on Wednesday at Yankee Stadium. Suzuki hit his third home run of the season and kept the Dodgers from having a huge inning with a leaping catch in the eighth inning. Suzuki's three RBIs are one more than he had totaled in his first 15 games in June.
"Let's not forget that he had a big defensive play in the eighth inning. That's a heck of a play," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "He's been playing extremely well for us. He has the ability to get really, really hot. He can do that."
It's been an up-and-down season for Suzuki, as he's struggled to get on base and seen his average fluctuate. He's been prone to streaks, both hot and cold, like the 10-for-22 ride he's currently experiencing over his last six games.
Wednesday, Suzuki singled and scored a run in the second inning before blasting a solo shot to right in the sixth inning to put the Yankees up 3-0. It marked his first homer at Yankee Stadium this year.
In the seventh, he gave the Yankees two much-needed insurance runs as he poked a two-run single to left to give the club a 6-2 lead.
Suzuki now has four multi-hit games over his last six contests.
"I haven't changed anything," Suzuki said. "I haven't done anything differently."
Just as much as Suzuki's two-run single proved to be a huge moment in the game, his defensive gem in the eighth also proved to be a difference maker.
With the Yankees ahead 6-2, Yasiel Puig doubled and Adrian Gonzalez rocketed a line drive to right. Suzuki raced back, and while squaring toward the plate, threw his glove up and snagged the ball behind his head. The next better, Hanley Ramirez, smashed a two-run shot to slice the game to 6-4.
"I knew that it wasn't a home run because I knew the pitcher got in a little bit, so he got a little jammed," Suzuki said. "The tough part was which way do I turn. It was right over my head. So I made sure I turned the right way."
As the Yankees continue to rely on their replacement players to help keep their season afloat, they need their starters, such as Suzuki, to be the stalwarts of the offense. If Suzuki can deliver more like he did Wednesday, he can be a great asset to what's been an underachieving offense.
"He was huge today. Those were big hits and obviously the two RBIs late in the game, those were big," Yankees first baseman Lyle Overbay said. "He's Ichiro. It's fun to watch him every day. He never ceases to amaze you."