x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 January 2018

Suzuki gets 4,000th hit, Soriano homers for Yankees in MLB

Japanese hitter gets ovation from teammates and fans as New York clinch 4-2 victory over Blue Jays for Toronto's 12th straight loss at Yankee Stadium.

Ichiro Suzuki, the Yankees slugger, was given an ovation after the Japanese star got his 4,000th career hit.
Ichiro Suzuki, the Yankees slugger, was given an ovation after the Japanese star got his 4,000th career hit.

NEW YORK // Ichiro Suzuki was overwhelmed by the outpouring of appreciation he received from the Yankees after he got his 4,000th hit between Major League Baseball and Japan in the first inning.

The celebration after Alfonso Soriano's tiebreaking homer in the eighth was pretty nice, too.

Soriano connected off RA Dickey with two outs in the eighth inning on Wednesday night, lifting New York to a 4-2 victory over the Blue Jays for Toronto's 12th straight loss at Yankee Stadium.

"It's unbelievable, 4,000 hits," Soriano said of Suzuki's milestone. "To get 4,000 hits, you have to be a great hitter."

The 39-year-old Suzuki hit a liner off Dickey (9-12) that bounced just beyond Brett Lawrie, the diving third baseman, for the milestone hit. Pete Rose with 4,256 hits and Ty Cobb with 4,191 are the only two players that have reached the number solely in the major leagues.

Suzuki broke a tie with Lou Gehrig when he got his 2,722nd major league hit in his 13th season. The speedy outfielder amassed 1,278 hits in nine seasons with Orix of Japan's Pacific League.

Suzuki's teammates streamed out of the dugout and surrounded him at first base, Curtis Granderson giving him the first hug. A grinning Suzuki then faced the cheering fans and bowed, tipping his helmet. He bowed several more times, the last one toward the Blue Jays dugout.

"When my teammates came out to first base it was very special, and to see the fans," Suzuki said. "I wasn't expecting so much joy and happiness from them and that's what made it very special tonight."

When he went to his position in right field for the second inning, Suzuki tipped his cap to fans who greeted him with a standing ovation.

"You never want to be the guy that gives up the milestone," Dickey said. "That being said, what an incredible achievement. The manner that he's done it is equally impressive. Just the longevity, the endurance, the durability. Having played with him in Seattle, it was a real treat to play with him and it couldn't have happened to a more professional hitter."

Ken Griffey Jr, a former teammate with the Seattle Mariners, congratulated Suzuki with a message shown on the video board at Yankee Stadium.

Suzuki's post-game news conference with the Japanese media lasted a whopping 47 minutes.

Soriano has played a big role in the Yankees' recent surge in which they have won 10 of 13. He had hit six homers and drove in 19 runs over a six-game stretch. But he was 0 for 17 before connecting off the knuckleballer in the eighth for the 4-2 lead.

"I like to hit knuckleballs," Soriano said. "The whole game, he had been throwing me knuckleballs, good ones, a lot of movement. Finally, the last one I got a good one to hit."

David Huff (1-0) pitched one-hit ball in five innings of relief to shut down the Blue Jays before New York finally got to Dickey.

Jayson Nix, the Yankees infielder, broke his left hand when he was hit by a pitch in the second inning. On Tuesday, he hit a tying homer and had a walk-off single in the ninth to help New York secure a doubleheader sweep.

"I feel terrible," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "After a great day for him yesterday and what he's meant to our club this year playing so much shortstop in the absence of Jete [Derek Jeter] and Nuni [Eduardo Nunez] going down. This is a guy that just does things right.

Adam Warren started for New York to give 41-year-old Andy Pettitte one more day after the Yankees stayed on rotation for their doubleheader Tuesday. He gave up two runs in three-plus innings, including Josh Thole's tying homer in the fourth. It was Thole's first homer with the Blue Jays.

Huff relieved and did not allow a hit until Lawrie led off the eighth with an infield single. Huff walked four, one intentionally, but never was in real trouble.

"A lot of that line-up was down in [Triple-A] Buffalo when I was down in Scranton," Huff said. "I got to face them and got a good feel for them."

Toronto left at least one runner on base in each of the first eight innings and was 2 for 15 with runners on base.

Mariano Rivera pitched the ninth and earned his 37th save after working both games of New York's doubleheader sweep on Tuesday. He gave up a one-out double to Rajai Davis, but picked him off second, and then struck out Edwin Encarnacion looking to end the game.

Dickey overcame a rough start, giving up four hits in the first three innings and putting a runner in scoring position with a wild pitch before settling in with his knuckleball in ideal hot conditions.

He struck out nine and gave up six hits. But after retiring 14 of 15, he allowed a two-out single to Robinson Cano. Soriano followed by connecting for the 28th homer off Dickey this year, a career high.

"It's frustrating. It's like the 'Twilight Zone'. Different day, same script," Dickey said. "It's really a very fluky kind of feeling."

Thole, who caught Dickey throughout much of his NL Cy Young Award season with the New York Mets last year, had two passed balls in the first inning, but the Yankees failed to score.

In the second, Eduardo Nunez singled and stole second. Dickey's wild pitch sent Nunez to third, and Austin Romine's sacrifice fly tied it at 1.

Munenori Kawasaki had given Toronto the early lead with an RBI single in the top half. The Blue Jays have led in each of the three games in this series and lost all three. They have dropped nine in a row against New York.

Granderson had a two-out RBI single in the third.


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