Ichiro Joins 4,000 Hit Club, as Soriano Hits Game-Winning HR to Top Jays • Latino Sports

Baseball

Ichiro Joins 4,000 Hit Club, as Soriano Hits Game-Winning HR to Top Jays

on

Yankee Stadium, the Bronx- Ichiro Suzuki’s 4,000 career hit happened much like the first 3,999 that came before it.

Swinging the bat as if it was a sword slicing through mid-air, Suzuki followed through on a knuckleball by Toronto starting pitcher, and last season’s National League Cy Young award winner R.A. Dickey for a first inning single.

The ball jolted past the hole between short and third, and before Ichiro could draw a breath, or take in the view from the scoreboard congratulating him on his feat, the entire Yankees’ dugout swarmed the field, slapping and high-fiving Ichiro for being one of the greatest hitters of the last decade.

“It was supposed to be a number special to me,” said Ichiro through a translator, adding, “I wasn’t expecting my teammates to come to first base…I was really overwhelmed. The game was stopped for me. I felt bad the game was stopped for me, [but] I was overjoyed at the way they were happy for me.”

Ichiro was shocked at the crowd that waved signs reading, “Ichiro 4,000” and bowed his head in thanks of those that came to see him reach this special milestone.

The 4,000 career hits places Ichiro in third place behind Pete Rose [4,256] and Ty Cobb [4,191] in the context considering Ichiro’s hits from the highest levels of baseball in Japan and the U.S. In the Major’s Ichiro has 2,722 hits, and would most likely need to play another two full seasons with similar productivity to reach 3,000 hits.

Through all of this drama a baseball game of some merit for a Yankees team in search of a Wild Card playoff spot was still being played. The outcome of a contest tied 2-2 going into the bottom of the eighth inning, was decided on a two-run homer by Alfonso Soriano that gave the Yankees the lead, and eventually a 4-2 win over the Toronto Blue Jays.

Soriano’s blast into left-field was his ninth as a Yankee and his 26th of the season, as the ball drifted into left-field taking away Dickey’s shot for 10 wins on the year.

“He was due,” said Yankees’ skipper Joe Girardi on Soriano ending an 0-for-17 stretch with the game-winning home run. “As hot as he’s been, he was due.”

The Yankees have now won for the ninth time in their last 11 games, winning their fourth straight series, having taken the first three-of-four against the Blue Jays who the play once more on Thursday afternoon.

Dickey became the second Cy Young winner to lose twice in the same season to the Yankees after Justin Verlander of the Tigers fell two times in the 2012 season. Recording a complete-game, Dickey allowed four earned runs on six hits in eight innings pitched.

Adam Warren, normally of the Yankees bullpen, made his first start of the season and the second of his career, recording a no-decision by throwing 61 pitches in just three innings of work for two earned runs.

David Huff earned his first win as a Yankee in relief, tossing five scoreless innings in his third appearance of the year in Pinstripes.

Huff also made a premier defensive play in the top of the eighth inning, fielding a bunt by Toronto catcher Josh Thole by flipping the ball from his glove to first for the out.

“I got lucky,” said Huff on his play with the leather. “Nine times out of ten I’ll flip it too short, or over his head. Just got lucky.”

The Blue Jays led from the very beginning, after shortstop Munenori Kawasaki hit an RBI-single into right-field. Ichiro tried to gun down Anthony Gose at the plate, but Yankees’ catcher Austin Romine could not hold onto the ball from the throw in the tag attempt, as the Jays went ahead 1-0.

Making the final out of the first inning, Jose Reyes argued a called third strike [and was probably right when looking at the replay], but was ejected after throwing his helmet by home plate umpire Ted Barrett.

“Well to be honest, I haven’t seen that from him before,” said Toronto manager John Gibbons on Reyes’ outburst. “I thought the umpire could have walked away, but Jose isn’t a guy that complains, very rarely. I thought he [Reyes] had a beef on the last pitch but who knows, I didn’t see the replay. It’s definitely unusual out of him.”

In the bottom of the second inning, Yankees’ third baseman Jayson Nix got drilled on the left hand and did not return. He was later diagnosed with a broken left hand.

Int the top of the fourth, the Blue Jays trailed 2-1 until Thole came through with his first home run of the season, and his first as a member of the Blue Jays, a moonshot into the Yankees bullpen that tied the game at 2-2.

After Soriano’s home run, the Blue Jays had one last shot against Mariano Rivera in the top of the ninth. Rivera earned his 37th save of the season by getting slugger Edwin Encarnacion to strike out looking for the final out after having picked-off Blue Jays’ stolen base leader Rajai Davis off second base.

Asked what he would do with his milestone hit, one that Ichiro broke down by saying it was the fourth time he had accomplished 1,000 hits [and to do think of it that way made the accomplishment seem more real] Ichiro asked the questioner what he thought he should do with it. Told that perhaps he should display it in his house, Ichiro jokingly responded,” I haven’t seen it [the ball], have to make sure no one takes it.”

Whoever has it should be careful. They’re holding a special piece of baseball history.

About Oren Vourman