(Courtesy of the AP)
The Yankees started a 20 games in 20 days stretch last night leading up to the All Star Break and they welcomed the Texas Rangers to town for the first time this season. It was must see TV in Japan with a pitching matchup of Hiroki Kuroda and Yu Darvish to start the game and some fireworks from Ichiro to end it. My fellow IIATMS/TYA writers and I were joking yesterday about the odds of Darvish throwing a no-hitter or a perfect game last night, something that anybody who's been watching the Yankee offense lately would have had to actually acknowledge as a possibility even if they were joking. As luck would have it, the Yankees didn't only not get no hit but they managed to dust off the old "too many homers" meme for a night and slug their way to victory.
- In the bottom of the 1st it looked like it was going to be more of the same from the lineup. 3 straight 1-out singles loaded the bases for Lyle Overbay and all he could do was strike out looking. Zoilo grounded out to end the threat and the inning.
- Texas got on the board first in the top of the 3rd on a solo HR by Leonys Martin of all people. Kuroda left a sinker up just enough for Martin to get a good swing on it and it was 1-0 Rangers.
- They tacked on more runs in the 4th on a pair of singles and an RBI groundout and another HR by Martin to lead off the 5th. Kuroda was a little shaky - 5 hits and a walk, plus the 2 Martin homers, through 5 - before cleaning it up and retiring the final 5 batters he faced without issue.
- The lineup started its HR parade in the bottom of the 4th on a solo shot by Travis Hafner to lead off the inning. Brett Gardner followed suit to lead off the 5th to make it 3-2 before Overbay stranded 2 more runners, and Jayson Nix made it 3 leadoff dingers in a row to tie the game in the 6th.
- Kuroda gave way to Boone Logan to finish the 7th, then it was on to David Robertson and Mariano Rivera for the 8th and 9th. They each pitched around base hits to hold the Rangers at 3 and set up for Ichiro's 9th inning dramatics.
- Texas reliever Tanner Scheppers had to feel good after working around a leadoff walk of Chris Stewart with a force out and caught stealing of Gardner. He tried to sneak a 1-2 fastball - his 4th straight of the AB - by Ichiro and instead Ichiro turned on it to put it over the fence in right and give the Yankees their first walk-off win of the year.
- Ichiro: 2-5, 1 HR, 1 R, 1 RBI, 1 K, 1 LOB. One of only 2 guys in the lineup with multiple hits last night and owner of the most important one.
- Hafner: 2-4, 1 HR, 1 R, 1 RBI, 1 LOB. The other guy. Nice to see a game like this from the slumping Pronk. The Yankees could use another hot streak from him if he's got it left in there somewhere.
- Kuroda: 6.2 IP, 5 H, 3 R (2 ER), 1 BB, 6 K. It didn't look great if you weren't watching the game, but Kuroda was his usual reliable self again last night and he outpitched Darvish. Re-sign him to another 1-year deal now. At least ask him about it.
- Overbay: 0-4, 3 K, 5 LOB. Ugly night for Lyle from the 5th spot in the batting order. Just 1 hit or even a sac fly could have taken some of the drama out of this game.
- Zoilo Almonte: 0-4, 1 SB, 5 LOB. Send him down!
They'll do it again tonight at The Stadium with Andy Pettitte getting the ball for New York and Justin Grimm for the Rangers.