Ichiro Drives In 5, Yankees Blast Blue Jays
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TORONTO (AP) — Ichiro Suzuki is hardly awed by playing for baseball’s most famous franchise. Sometimes, he doesn’t even remember he’s a Yankee.
Suzuki matched a career high with five RBIs and Freddy Garcia won in Toronto for the first time in more than a decade, leading New York to a 10-4 victory Friday night over the injury-riddled Blue Jays.
Mark Teixeira hit his 22nd homer to help the AL East leaders win their third consecutive game and snap a three-game skid at Rogers Centre. New York had not won three straight since sweeping Toronto at Yankee Stadium from July 16-18.
“It seems like we’re starting to pick it up a little bit,” catcher Russell Martin said.
Starting in center field for the first time in four years, Suzuki drove in five runs for the first time since Aug. 17, 2004, with Seattle against Kansas City.
“There’s always an expectation here, whether it’s fair or not, that when you get traded here you’re supposed to really come and help,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. “Some guys are going to feel that heat and I don’t think it’s really bothered him.”
The 10-time All-Star hasn’t had trouble trying to live up to the Yankee mystique.
“Sometimes I get up to the plate and they say, `Playing left field, Ichiro Suzuki for the Yankees,”‘ he said through a translator. “It kind of takes me a while to remember, `Oh yeah, I am on the Yankees.”‘
Whether Suzuki remembers who he plays for or not, Martin is happy to have him as a teammate.
“He has a knack for finding ways to get on base,” Martin said. “He kind of solidifies the bottom of our lineup.”
With center fielder Curtis Granderson getting a rest, Suzuki handled all three balls hit to him.
“It had been a while so I was a little nervous, but there were no tough balls at me today,” he said. “Everything went well.”
Garcia (6-5) allowed two runs and five hits in six innings to win back-to-back starts for the second time this season. He also did it July 7 at Boston and July 14 against the Angels.
Garcia, who walked none and struck out four, retired his final eight batters and won in Toronto for the first time since Sept. 17, 2000, with Seattle. The right-hander came in 0-5 with a 9.42 ERA in six starts since his last victory north of the border.
“I hate this ballpark,” Garcia said. “I think baseball should be played on regular grass. Sometimes you get a routine groundball and it’s a double.”
Hit hard in April and eventually bumped from the rotation, Garcia has given up three runs or fewer in seven of his past eight starts. Martin said improved velocity is one reason.
“When his velocity is up most of his other pitches are crisper,” Martin said. “That’s really the big difference. His velocity was down when he was getting banged around a little bit and now that he’s gotten velocity back, he’s much better.”
Ricky Romero lost for the eighth time in nine starts as Toronto dropped its fourth straight and was beaten for the 10th time in 12 games.
“It’s not easy what we’re going through right now,” Romero said.
Romero (8-9) gave up three runs, two earned, and four hits in seven innings but remained winless since June 22 at Miami. He is 0-8 with a 7.26 ERA in nine starts since.
The Blue Jays returned home after going 2-8 on a three-city trip that began with a sweep in Seattle and ended with a sweep at Tampa Bay. They opened a 10-game homestand, their longest of the season, against the AL’s three division leaders in New York, Chicago and Texas.
Kelly Johnson homered and hit an RBI double for Toronto.
Suzuki had an RBI grounder in the second, a two-run single in the eighth and a two-run double in the ninth.
Teixeira gave the Yankees a 4-2 advantage when he homered into the second deck in right on reliever Steve Delabar’s first pitch of the eighth. New York piled on after that, with Martin reaching on a bloop single that hit Johnson in the head and Suzuki following with a two-run single.
Martin said he’d never seen a play like his looper that dropped over Johnson’s glove and struck him on the side of his hat.
“I hit it off the cap so it probably had some weird spin on it,” Martin said. “It obviously did something funny. It was not his most glorious moment, that’s for sure.”
NOTES: Toronto OF Colby Rasmus left after eight innings with tightness in his right groin and is day to day. … New York 3B Alex Rodriguez (left hand) took one-handed swings off a tee. … Suzuki has played all three outfield positions since joining the Yankees. “If they say, `You have to play catcher,’ I’d probably say no,” Suzuki joked. … After speaking with MLB vice president Joe Torre, Girardi will not be suspended for his ejection and tirade Thursday at Detroit. … The Blue Jays claimed RHP Juan Abreu off waivers from Houston and assigned him to Triple-A Las Vegas. … Toronto RHP Drew Hutchison (elbow) and RHP Dustin McGowan (shoulder) both had surgery Thursday. … Recalled from Triple-A before the game, RHP David Carpenter was optioned back to the minors after giving up four runs in his Toronto debut. INF Mike McCoy was recalled from Las Vegas to take his place.
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