Results tagged ‘ Andruw Jones ’

Move to the pen proves costly

A perfect example of how managerial moves are based on players’ execution was on view in the seventh inning Tuesday night. Yankees manager Joe Girardi made a pitching change that seemed to make a lot of sense at the time only to have it explode in his face.

Phil Hughes cruised through six innings and had a 3-1 lead with a relatively low pitch count. He gave up a leadoff single in the seventh to Ryan Doumit and then lost Chris Parmelee to a walk in a 10-pitch at-bat in which Parmelee fouled off six pitches. Hughes didn’t appear gassed, however. He got an out on a popup before an infield single by Jamey Carroll loaded the bases. Hughes got a huge second out on a strikeout of Pedro Florimon on a high fastball.

This is when Girardi made his move to Boone Logan. Although Hughes was only at 99 pitches (like it or not, pitch count for starter plays into such moves), Girardi’s decision had merit. Logan is a lefthander, and the next four Minnesota batters were left-handed. This was as book a move as they come. It was also as disastrous a move as they come, which was because of Logan’s failure to execute pitches.

He got off to a bumpy start while pitching to Denard Span by throwing a wild pitch through the legs of catcher Russell Martin that scored Doumit to make it a one-run game with the other two runners advancing as well. Span worked the count full before lining a slider into right-center field for a two-run double that cost the Yankees the lead.

Logan continued to struggle against the lefty hitters as Ben Revere walked and Joe Mauer singled for his third hit to score Span for an insurance run that proved necessary when the Yankees scored in the ninth on a pinch home run by Andruw Jones.

The 5-4 loss was a tough one for the Yankees and an excruciating one for Hughes, who instead of improving his record to 17-12 fell to 16-13 and lost the chance to equal his career high in victories of 2010 when he was 18-8. If nothing else, though, Hughes probably cemented his position in the Yankees’ postseason rotation, assuming they get there, of course.

That would have been more of a cinch had the Yankees won Tuesday night. The Orioles had lost at home to the Blue Jays. A Yankees victory would have pushed Baltimore 2 ½ games away (and three in the loss column) in the American League East, but they had to satisfy for another calendar date turnover.

It was a disappointing turnaround for the Yankees, who used the long ball once again with a two-run home run by Nick Swisher and a solo by Martin. Jones’ 14th home run of the season was his first in 49 at-bats since Aug. 16. The Yankees continued to find Target Field to their liking with 17 home runs in nine games there over the past three seasons.

Swisher is heating up at a good time with an eight-game hitting streak in which he has 11-for-30 (.367) with four home runs and 11 RBI. Another good sign was Robinson Cano reaching base four times on three singles and a walk after coming into the game with three hits in his previous 25 at-bats, a .120 stretch.

Derek Jeter had 1-for-5 to extend his hitting streak to 19 games, matching the third longest of his career. The other was in 2007, the same year that he also had a 20-game streak. The longest streak of DJ’s career was a 25-gamer in 2006, the year he finished second to Twins first baseman Justin Morneau for the AL Most Valuable Player Award.

Miss a pivotal game? Not Derek Jeter

Was anyone really surprised to see Derek Jeter in the Yankees’ lineup Thursday night? When last the Captain was seen Wednesday night he was hobbling off the Fenway Park diamond after aggravating a left ankle bone bruise trying to beat out a double play grounder. He practically had to be dragged into the dugout by manager Joe Girardi and trainer Steve Donohue, so it was by no means at all stunning to see his name atop the batting order for the series finale.

Jeter had told reporters after Wednesday night’s game that he expected to play Thursday night. “Great,” he told Girardi when asked how the ankle felt before the game. Girardi may not have fully believed Jeter, but he sure wanted to. The manager played it safe and kept him off the field as Jeter got half a day off, sort of, as the designated hitter.

Good thing, too, because the Yankees needed the run-scoring hit he gave them in the seventh inning of a 2-0 victory that certainly fit into the must-win category of games. The Orioles had already won a 14-inning marathon against the Rays earlier in the day, so until the last out of the game at Fenway the Yankees were actually a half-game out of first place.

Jeter miss a must-win game? Not on your life. Fact is, Jeet thinks all games are must-win games.

The Yankees played .500 ball on the trip through Tampa Bay, Baltimore and Boston with a 5-5 record, which is only mediocre but since they lost three of the first four games on the trek they consider .500 acceptable. Another positive was that the Rays’ loss at Baltimore coupled with the Yankees’ victory dropped Tampa Bay four games out of first, which means the Yanks cannot fall behind the Rays in the standings in the three-game series at Yankee Stadium that begins Friday night with the marquee matchup of lefthanders CC Sabathia vs. David Price.

Phil Hughes pitched 7 1/3 terrific innings for his second victory on the trip and 15th of the season. With new daddy Dustin Pedroia unavailable, the Boston lineup was even weaker than normal, and Hughes made sure an upset was out of the question.

However, with the Yankees again struggling with runners in scoring position (1-for-9), Hughes did not have much margin for error. The Yankees got only one run out of a bases-loaded, none-out situation in the fourth against lefthander Felix Doubront on a sacrifice fly by Andruw Jones. Jeter’s RBI single three innings later was welcomed by Hughes, who walked one batter and struck out seven.

It was a brutal series for the Yankees in the clutch. They somehow won two of the three games despite getting only two hits in 34 at-bats (.059) with runners in scoring position in the series. Jeter had both hits. He also doubled in two runs Tuesday night. Thursday night’s hit was career No. 3,283, which tied DJ with Willie Mays for 10th place all-time. Think of it; with one more hit Jeter will knock the Say Hey Kid out of the top 10.

Yanks muscle their way back atop AL East

There was good reason for Yankees fans to be nervous about Friday night’s game against the Orioles. The Yankees’ starter was Phil Hughes, who was tied with two other American League pitchers for the most home runs allowed this season with 32. Baltimore is second to the Yankees in home runs in the AL and was off a six-tater game Thursday night.

Hughes ended up yielding another home run, a three-run shot to Adam Jones in the sixth inning, but by then was working with a seven-run lead, thanks to long ball slugging by his teammates. Muscle returned to the Yankees’ lineup Friday night, and because of that they returned to the top of the AL East all by themselves.

Home runs accounted for all but one of the runs in the Yankees’ 8-5 victory that pushed the Orioles one game behind in the standings in the middle game of a four-game set at Camden Yards. All of the O’s runs were on homers as Robert Andino and Manny Machado had solo blows off Cody Eppley and Rafael Soriano, respectively. Yet because of the Yanks’ outburst against Orioles starter Wei-Yin Chen they had the Birds climbing uphill throughout the game.

Russell Martin got the Yanks off to their rousing start with a three-run shot in the fourth. Martin, who has straddled the Mendoza line all year and is hitting .204, has had a strong trip with 6-for-14 (.429) with one double, two home runs and seven RBI.

Andruw Jones, who is also in Mendoza line territory at .206, poked a single one out later and came home on Steve Pearce’s first home run with the Yankees and his fourth of the year. All Pearce needs to catch Alex Rodriguez with home runs for the Yankees is 299.

A-Rod banged his 300th home run with the Yankees, a two-out, two-run drive that traveled more than 430 feet to left-center. It seemed like gravy at the time but proved an important clout when Jones took Hughes deep in the sixth. Rodriguez became the sixth player with 300 home runs for the Yankees, joining Babe Ruth (659), Mickey Mantle (536), Lou Gehrig (493), Joe DiMaggio (361) and Yogi Berra (358). The Yankees are the first franchise to have six players hit 300 or more home runs for the team. The Braves and Red Sox have five apiece.

It was part of a milestone night for A-Rod. His second-inning single pushed him past Mel Ott and into 39th place on the career hits list with 2,877. Career home run No. 645 gave Rodriguez his 1,882nd career run, which tied him with Tris Speaker for 10th place on the all-time list.

Derek Jeter had three hits to raise his major-league-leading total to 186 and batting average to .320. The Captain’s third hit was a screeching single past Andino in the ninth that scored Ichiro Suzuki with a welcomed extra run that gave Soriano plenty of a cushion in the bottom half in a non-save situation.

Hughes had a good fastball and effective changeup that helped him take a four-hit shutout into the sixth. He and four Yankees relievers also managed to keep Mark Reynolds, who had six home runs over his previous four games against them, in the yard. David Robertson made a nice comeback from Thursday night’s debacle. He struck out Jones, who hit a tiebreaking home run off him the night before. Boone Logan also got two key outs in the seventh one night after giving up a home run to the only batter he faced.

Baltimore manager Buck Showalter will start lefthanders again Saturday night and Sunday, but the lightning that came off the right-handed bats in the Yankees’ lineup should give him reason to be concerned.

Yanks head to Baltimore after regaining lead

Many Yankees fans over the years have taken advantage of the relative nearness of Baltimore to make the trip to Camden Yards and see the team there. The Yankees can use all the support their fans can give them this week in a four-game series against the Orioles that starts Thursday night.

The Yanks gave themselves a needed boost Wednesday night in regaining the top spot of the American League East with a 6-4 victory over Tampa Bay while Baltimore lost by the same score at Toronto. So the Yankees take a one-game lead over the Orioles into the coming series.

Yankees general manager Brian Cashman told writers before the game, “We intend to win the American League East. That’s what we expect to do, and that’s what we intend to do. Buckle up – it’s going to be a hell of a ride this last month. I would tell our fans to hang in. We’re going to sprint this one out and do them proud.”

As it turned out, a sacrifice bunt that the Yankees did not rely on earlier in the game helped set up what proved the winning rally in the seventh inning as they unlocked a 4-4 score. Following singles by Andruw Jones and Steve Pearce with none out, Jayson Nix moved the runners along with a bunt so well placed that he nearly got a hit out of it.

Rays second baseman Elliot Johnson did the rest. Moving on contact when Derek Jeter hit a ground ball to the right side against a tight infield, pinch runner Ichiro Suzuki made it home on a wild throw to the left of the plate by Johnson that allowed Pearce to score as well. It was the kind of break the Yankees dearly needed during this stretch when they have struggled against division foes. Through the first nine games of a 22-game period against AL East competition, the Yanks are 3-6.

It was a break as well for Hiroki Kuroda, who failed to hold leads of 3-1 and 4-3 but ended up with the winning decision. He does not have to apologize considering the lack of run support he has had most of the season. There have been several losses Kuroda has endured this year when he has pitched well enough to win, so it is only fair that he get a victory on a night when he was not at his best.

To have notched the victory against a first-rate lefthander like Tampa Bay’s Matt Moore was also a major plus for the Yankees, who have been vulnerable against left-handed pitching in the second half, particularly during the six weeks Alex Rodriguez spent on the disabled list. They will see three more left-handed starters at Baltimore. Orioles manager Buck Showalter can read a stat sheet, that’s for sure.

All eight of the Yankees’ hits in the game, all against Moore, were by right-handed hitters as Joe Girardi filled his lineup with as many righty swingers as he could find. Russell Martin drove in three runs with a two-run double and a home run to get his batting average above .200 (.202) for the first time in 67 games since June 22.

Jeter had three hits and a run batted in. One of the hits was on fly to shallow center field that could not be handled by Johnson, who had a bad night in the field. That misplay also cost the Rays a run. Rodriguez sent Jeter home with a well-struck double to left. And don’t forget that Jones and Pearce, two more right-handed hitters, got the seventh-inning rally started.

Kuroda was hurt by a two-out, RBI single by Evan Longoria in the first inning, a two-out, two-run triple by Ben Zobrist in the fifth and a solo home run by Luke Scott in the sixth as he kept giving back leads the Yankees gave him. The bullpen did no such thing as Boone Logan, David Robertson and Rafael Soriano (36th save) combined for three shutout innings.

Not everything went the Yankees’ way. They struck out 15 times in the game. But they took advantage of opponents’ fielding lapses and held on to a lead when it was crucial. They have their share of fans in the Tampa Bay area where they spend spring training and some of their players have off-season homes. A trip to Baltimore, however, brings them even closer to their fan base. For all those headed down the New Jersey Turnpike, give the lads a helping hand.

Yanks hope for boost from A-Rod

It is admittedly hard to stay optimistic about the Yankees after this past homestand in which they lost four of six games and had their lead in the American League East dwindle to two games over the Orioles, who were 8-3 winners Sunday and have beaten the Yankees six times in nine games this year at Yankee Stadium.

Baltimore certainly did not look like a team that will fade this month. Granted, the Orioles did hand the Yankees Saturday’s game, but they came back from deficits of 2-0 and 3-1 Sunday on the strength of two home runs by Mark Reynolds for four of the five runs that Phil Hughes gave up over five-plus innings.

The long ball has plagued Hughes all season, although Sunday was the first time in seven starts that he gave up more than one. Hughes has been taken deep 32 times this season.

Yankees manager Joe Girardi wore out a path from the dugout to the mound as he used eight pitchers in the game, including five in the eighth inning alone when the Orioles pulled away. Get used to this. With rosters expanded in September, managers have many more pitching options.

At issue for the Yankees has been a somewhat stagnant offense. They scored 22 runs during the homestand, which was an average of less than four runs (3.7) per game. After Mark Teixeira was sidelined because of a left calf strain, the Yankees’ cleanup hitters were Steve Pearce, Andruw Jones, Curtis Granderson and Eric Chavez. Granderson also got hurt (right hamstring tendinitis) and did not play Sunday.

In Granderson’s place was the lone bright spot for the Yankees Sunday. September callup Chris Dickerson hit a two-run home run, walked, scored two runs and made a sensational catch to rob Adam Jones of a potential home run in the seventh inning.

The Yankees are 2-4 after the first portion of a 22-game stretch against divisional foes, and they embark on their longest trip of the year, a 10-game, 11-day trek to St. Petersburg, Fla., Baltimore and Boston that starts with a Labor Day matinee game at Tropicana Field where the Yanks have lost five of six games this season.

Teixeira and Granderson may be kept off the Trop’s artificial surface, but Girardi said he was planning on getting Alex Rodriguez back into the lineup, although the manager did not specify third base or designated hitter. The main position for A-Rod with Girardi is hitter. The Yankees could use a lineup boost.

In the 36 games Rodriguez spent on the disabled list, his replacements at third base (Chavez, Jayson Nix and Casey McGehee) combined to bat .303 with six doubles, seven home runs, 16 RBI and a .508 slugging percentage in 132 at-bats. Not bad. However, over the past 16 games, Yankees third basemen hit .193 with one extra-base hit, a double, and one RBI in 57 at-bats. Not good.

The Yankees played .500 ball (18-18) in Rodriguez’s absence. They are going to have to do better to fight off the challenge of the Orioles and the Rays, who are 3 ½ games out.

Bullpen breakdown prevents Yanks’ sweep

The string of strong starts for the Yankees against the Rangers in the four-game series ended Thursday as Ivan Nova struggled over 5 2/3 innings and left the game trailing, 4-0. Nova had stopped a five-game winless streak in his previous start, but he was not as sharp this time out.

Yet it was the bullpen that was at greater fault for the Yankees’ failure to complete a four-game sweep as Texas saved face with a 10-6 victory. Nevertheless, taking three of four games pushed the Yankees over the Rangers for the best record in the American League and served notice on Texas that a third consecutive trip to the World Series has a treacherous pathway through New York.

The Yanks’ pen will have to do better than it showed Thursday, however. The Yankees overcame the deficit Nova created and actually took the lead before Cody Eppley, Boone Logan and Joba Chamberlain let it get away. The Rangers struck for eight runs over the last four innings against four relievers.

Chamberlain had the roughest outing. He allowed two earned runs, four hits and two walks in 1 2/3 innings. Cut him some slack because Chamberlain is coming back from Tommy John shoulder surgery and an injured ankle. The rust shows. Opponents are batting .448 against Joba, whose ERA is 9.00.

Nova’s most impressive inning was the third when he worked himself in and out of trouble. He loaded the bases on a double by rookie Mike Olt and walks to Elvis Andrus and Michael Young, not a smart thing to do with Josh Hamilton coming up. But Nova struck out Hamilton on three pitches, the last a mean curve in the dirt, got Adrian Beltre to ground into a fielder’s choice with third baseman Casey McGehee getting a force at the plate and struck out David Murphy.

The Rangers had gotten to Nova early. A single by Young, a double by Hamilton and a single by Beltre gave Texas a 2-0 lead in the first inning. Nova faced another bases-loaded situation in the sixth but did not escape this time.

The Texas rally began with one of those dreaded fly balls to left field at Yankee Stadium during day games. Andruw Jones lost sight of Hamilton’s drive in the blazing sun, and the ball fell for a leadoff double. Nova worsened matters by hitting Beltre with a pitch. A single by Murphy scored a run, and after a sacrifice and an intentional walk the bags were full.

Nova got an out on a force play at third base but a run scored. When he walked Olt, the 9-hole hitter, to load the bases again, manager Joe Girardi made the move to Cody Eppley, who retired Andrus on a fielder’s choice to end the inning.

The Yankees got Nova off the hook, however, as they batted around in the bottom of the sixth in putting up a 5-spot to take the lead. Rangers lefthander Derek Holland entered the inning with a one-hit shutout working but he could not survive the onslaught that befell him. As many rallies do, it began somewhat quietly on an infield single by Ichiro Suzuki, who advanced to second on an infield out.

Derek Jeter got the Yanks on the board with a single to center, extending his hitting streak to 10 games. Jeet took second on the throw to the plate and was able to score on a single to center by Nick Swisher, who got his ninth RBI of the series. After Mark Teixeira struck out, Jones atoned for his misplay at the top of the inning by driving a first-pitch slider down the left field line for a two-run home run that tied the score.

McGehee also hit the ball hard to right-center, but it looked like the third out until Olt, playing right field, dropped the ball for a two-base error. Russell Martin abruptly greeted reliever Tanner Scheppers with a single to center that scored McGehee to put the Yanks ahead.

Too bad it did not last very long.

Yanks lose some ground on 4-3 trip

CC Sabathia’s absence has already been felt by the Yankees. With David Phelps needed to take Sabathia’s turn in the rotation Monday night when the Yankees open a four-game set against the Rangers at Yankee Stadium, the righthander could not be called on for long relief duty Sunday at Toronto.

Phil Hughes had his second straight horrid outing in giving up seven runs and nine hits in four innings. Ryota Igarashi, recalled from Triple A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre to help in the bullpen, threw gas on the fire with a three-run fifth inning as the Blue Jays widened their lead to 10-1. The Yankees cut it to 10-7 with three runs apiece in the sixth and seventh, but they could not get any closer in dropping the finale to finish the Great Lakes trip to Detroit and Toronto at 4-3.

That is not bad considering the Yankees lost the first two games of the trek in Motown. Frankly, however, Sunday’s loss was a bit embarrassing. Edwin Encarnacion, who clocked his 30th home run, was the only player in the Jays lineup who was in Toronto’s opening day batting order. The Jays were without Jose Bautista, Colby Rasmus, Kelly Johnson, Yunel Escobar, J.P. Arencibia, Brett Lawrie and Adam Lind yet still managed to scorch the Yankees for 14 hits in ending a six-game losing streak and halting the Bombers’ four-game winning streak.

Despite the winning record on the trip, the Yankees lost 1 ½ games in the American League East standings over the past week. Their lead in the division is down to five games over second-place Tampa Bay, which has won six games in a row, and 5 ½ over third-place Baltimore.

Encarnacion and Moises Sierra had three hits apiece, but the guy who broke the Yankees’ back was left fielder Rajai Davis, who drove in five runs with two doubles and stole a run with a sensational, over-the-wall catch of a potential home run by Casey McGehee in the seventh inning.

The Yankees had only one hit over the first four innings against Jays starter J.A. Happ and were nine runs behind before their bats started to make some noise. Doubles by Andruw Jones and McGehee got the Yankees on the board in the fifth. The next inning, Robinson Cano and Derek Jeter homered to account for three runs. Doubles by Jayson Nix and Jeter and a single by Nick Swisher netted the Yanks three more runs in the seventh.

Jeter’s home run was his ninth of the season and first in 73 at-bats since July 25. It was a strong trip for the Captain, who batted .382 with two doubles, one home run, four RBI and five runs in 34 at-bats and is now hitting .318, the highest his average has been since June 15 when it was at .321.

Unforruntately, Hughes put them in a big hole and Igarashi further buried them. It was a poor trip for Hughes, who also failed to go five innings in his previous start Aug. 7 at Detroit. In his two starts on the trip, both losses, Hughes allowed 11 earned runs and 17 hits in 8 1/3 innings as his ERA grew from 3.96 to 4.44.

The starters need to step it up over the next two weeks while Sabathia recovers from left elbow soreness. One outstanding quality the Yankees have shown this season has been to overcome injuries – outfielders Raul Ibanez and Jones for Brett Gardner, closer Rafael Soriano for Mariano Rivera, reliever Cody Eppley for Joba Chamberlain, starting pitcher Freddy Garcia for Andy Pettitte, and third basemen Eric Chavez, McGehee and Nix for Alex Rodriguez. The starters did a good job the previous time CC was disabled, and they need to do so again.

Martin takes Kuroda off the hook

Hiroki Kuroda continued his success at Yankee Stadium Sunday night, although he was not involved in the decision. Kuroda ended up with a no-decision thanks to his catcher, Russell Martin, who homered leading off the seventh inning and singled with two out in the eighth to drive in Andruw Jones from second base to tie the score.

The Red Sox had taken a 2-0 lead in the second inning on a two-run double by Ryan Sweeney. After that, Kuroda shut down Boston on five hits through the eighth and was supported by four double plays.

With the no-decision, Kuroda’s record at the Stadium this season remained 7-3. He lowered his ERA in home games to 2.63 and has held opponents to a .222 batting average with seven home runs and 23 RBI in 82 innings. Over his past 12 starts, Kuroda is 7-1 with a 2.46 ERA and 73 strikeouts in 84 innings.

Martin has had a miserable time of it this season at the plate, but before a national television audience on ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball he had one of his best offensive games with two walks, the home run and the RBI single.

Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine should have done some homework before bringing in his closer, Alfredo Aceves, to pitch to Martin. The catcher had 3-for-5 (.600) with a home run off Aceves in his career before that at-bat. So make it 4-for-6 (.667) now.

A-Rod’s vacancy prompts lineup shakeup

After being successful in getting Ichiro Suzuki to bat in the bottom third of the order, Yankees manager Joe Girardi felt compelled to move Ichiro back into his familiar leadoff spot Wednesday as a measure in combating the loss of third baseman Alex Rodriguez, who was placed on the 15-day disabled list because of a broken bone in his left hand that is likely to sideline him from four to six weeks.

With A-Rod, who has alternated between third and fourth in the order, out of the lineup, Girardi re-worked it by dropping Derek Jeter from leadoff to second and Curtis Granderson from second to fifth with Robinson Cano in the 3-hole and Mark Teixeira at cleanup.

Taking Rodriguez’s place on the field was Eric Chavez, who batted seventh behind designated hitter Raul Ibanez. For the time being, Girardi will probably go with a platoon of the left-handed hitting Chavez and righty-swinging Jayson Nix at third base. Nix had been a utility guy, a role that now goes to infielder Ramiro Pena, who was recalled from Triple A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

Pena flew to Seattle from Charleston, S.C., to join the Yankees, who were to return to New York on a charter flight after the game. That means Pena will cover almost 5,000 air miles in less than 24 hours. He could have some case of jet lag Thursday.

How deeply the Yankees will search into the third base market remains to be seen. Remember, they are committed to A-Rod for five more seasons after this one, so going out and trading for a front-line player with a salary to go with his status is problematical. Don’t forget, the Yankees went with a platoon of Ibanez and Andruw Jones in left field during most of Brett Gardner’s absence, and that worked out well. Perhaps Chavez-Nix will be the same.

Jeter, who hit his eighth home run in his first at-bat as a 2-hole hitter, is plenty familiar with the second spot in the order. Wednesday marked the 1,306th game in which Jeter has hit second. He has batted leadoff in 922 games, including 94 this season. He was doing a terrific job at the top of the order, batting .348 in 155 at-bats leading off innings, .413 in 92 at-bats leading off games and .308 in 403 at-bats overall. Before Wednesday, the only position in the order that Jeter hit this year other than first was seventh as a late-inning defensive replacement for Nix in Sunday’s 5-4, 12-inning loss at Oakland. The Captain was called out on strikes in his only 7-hole at-bat.

Ichiro makes contribution in Yankees debut

Ichiro Suzuki got right into the swing of things for the Yankees Monday night. Accorded a standing ovation from grateful Mariners fans when he came to bat for the first time as a Yankee in the second inning at Safeco Field, Ichiro lashed a single to center field. Soon after that, he stole second base.

Speed has been an element largely lacking in the Yankees’ offense since mid April when Brett Gardner went on the disabled list because of a wrist injury. Gardner being lost for the rest of the season following surgery prompted Yankees general manager Brian Cashman to make the move for Ichiro. If he proves to have plenty of life left in those 38-year-old legs, Suzuki can be a major addition to the Yankees.

Ichiro wore uniform No. 51 for 12 seasons with the Mariners but recognized that the number is identified strongly with Bernie Williams on the Yankees. The number is not retired, but it has not been given to another player since Williams departed after the 2006 season. Suzuki has chosen to wear No. 31 with the Yankees. Probably the former Yankee mostly associated with that number is Hall of Famer Dave Winfield.

This is the second time a former Mariners player who wore No. 51 in Seattle could not get the number after being traded to the Yankees. The other was pitcher Randy Johnson. Williams was still playing for the Yankees when the Big Unit pitched for them in 2005 and ’06 and had to wear No. 41 instead.

With Ichiro joining Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez, the Yankees are the first team to have three players with more than 2,500 hits since 1928 when the Philadelphia Athletics had Eddie Collins, Ty Cobb and Tris Speaker. The year before that, the A’s had Collins, Cobb and Zack Wheat.

Despite all the attention focused on Suzuki Monday night, it was another Japanese-born Yankee who grabbed the spotlight. Hiroki Kuroda tamed the Mariners on one run, three hits and one walk with nine strikeouts in seven innings to win his fourth straight decision. The righthander over his past 11 starts is 7-1 with a 2.49 ERA in 76 innings to lower his season ERA from 4.56 to 3.34.

The Yankees’ 4-1 victory over the Mariners and Kevin Millwood ended the four-game losing streak from Oakland. The Yanks were more like themselves with 11 hits, including A-Rod’s 15th home run of the season and career No. 644. Rodriguez also doubled. Mark Teixeira had two doubles and a single and drove in a run. The other runs were driven home by Raul Ibanez and Andruw Jones.