A few innings after a matchup between Japanese aces Yu Darvish and Hiroki Kuroda was spoiled by five home runs, Ichiro Suzuki finished off the Texas Rangers with a long ball of his own.
Suzuki homered off Tanner Scheppers with two outs in the ninth inning, lifting the New York Yankees to a 4-3 victory over the Texas Rangers on Tuesday night.
”Love it,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. ”Sometimes it’s tough to score runs when you’re not hitting home runs. We got enough tonight.”
Suzuki’s drive to right-center was the Yankees’ fourth home run of the game, three coming off Darvish, and it helped New York improve to 4-3 on a homestand that ends after two more games against the Rangers.
”I think it was just the wrong pitch at the wrong time,” Scheppers said. ”I probably showed him too many fastballs in that at-bat. Probably should have went with something different.”
The Bronx Bombers were coming off a stretch in which they hit just four homers in 15 games, going 6-9. Other than Travis Hafner on Tuesday, the contributions came from some unlikely sources.
Brett Gardner and Jayson Nix also homered off Darvish, who hasn’t won in seven starts. Suzuki’s drive was his fourth of the year.
”Anyone can contribute, that’s the great thing about this game,” Girardi said. ”When you have a bat in your hand, you can be part of the story.”
Texas also had an unlikely power source: No. 9 hitter Leonys Martin connected twice off Kuroda.
Mariano Rivera (1-1) worked a scoreless ninth for New York, which ended the Rangers’ five-game winning streak.
Scheppers (5-1) pitched a perfect eighth before being touched up by Suzuki in New York’s first walk-off win this year.
The anticipated matchup between Darvish and Kuroda, Japanese aces with ERAs under 3.00, fizzled on a hot and sticky night when a four-inning stretch produced five home runs.
The 11th major league matchup between starters from Japan got off to a sharp start. Even when the Yankees loaded the bases in the first on three straight singles that just cleared the gloves of leaping infielders, Darvish easily got out of the jam with a strikeout and an easy grounder.
But Martin started the home run barrage with a shot that landed a couple of rows back in the short right field porch.
”The home runs I gave up, that was bad, but otherwise I think I pitched well,” Kuroda said through a translator.
After the Rangers went up 2-0 on an unearned run in the fourth aided by rookie third baseman David Adams’ throwing error, Hafner led off the bottom half with a long ball into the New York bullpen. Martin then started the fifth with a shot that landed several sections to the left of his first homer for his fifth of the year.
Not to be outdone, Gardner led off the Yankees’ half with a line drive deep into the seats in right field to pull New York to 3-2.
Kuroda had his first perfect inning since the second in the sixth. And Nix promptly tied it with a soaring fly to left field that cleared the wall by several rows, snapping his homerless string at 202 at-bats. Nix last homered on April 7.
Darvish was done two batters later, having allowed the most homers of his big league career in 45 starts. He hasn’t won since beating Justin Verlander and the Detroit Tigers on May 16.
Pitching on extra rest because Texas chose to bring up top pitching prospect Martin Perez to start against St. Louis on Saturday and push everyone back a day, Darvish struck out six. He yielded seven hits and three runs.
”He wasn’t at his best. I think we had him twice with two-run leads,” Rangers manager Ron Washington said. ”He tried to get a cutter in on Gardner and didn’t get it there and then he hung two breaking balls. They worked him and made him throw some pitches.”
Kuroda lasted into the seventh, lifted before facing Martin again. Boone Logan came in and struck out the No. 9 hitter.
Kuroda matched his line from the last time he faced Darvish on April 24, 2012 – two earned runs and five hits in 6 2-3 innings. He also struck out six.
Texas took advantage of Adams’ throwing error on Adrian Beltre’s grounder to go up 2-0 in the fourth. Beltre reached when Adams’ long throw skidded past first baseman Lyle Overbay with one out. A.J. Pierzynski and Lance Berkman each singled to load the bases before Mitch Moreland’s grounder to second base was too slow for Robinson Cano to start a double play, allowing a run to score.
With runners on first and third, David Murphy then hit a grounder that shortstop Nix fielded deep behind second base. He made a strong throw for the third out.
NOTES: Chris Stewart threw two runners out trying to steal and Pierzynski one. … Beltre made two errors. … Girardi said 1B Mark Teixeira (right wrist inflammation) was going to see a doctor Tuesday but had no update after the game. Teixeira hasn’t played since pulling himself from a game June 15 and Girardi said he is concerned about Teixeira because he is showing no improvement. … Washington said he will find playing time for INF Jurickson Profar in this series. Profar’s playing time has been curtailed since Ian Kinsler returned from the disabled list on June 15.