The start of tonight’s Game 2 of the American League Division Series was delayed 40 minutes by a light rain.
If the top of the first inning is any indication, the wait will be worth it.
The Yankees took a 1-0 lead on Robinson Cano’s two-out double off Wei-Yin Chen, who surrendered 21 runs in the first inning during the regular season. He remains something of a slow starter.
Derek Jeter fell behind 0-2 and singled to right-center field. Ichiro Suzuki fell behind 0-2 and reached on an error by Mark Reynolds, who tried to barehand the ball and get the force at second base.
Robert Andino made a sensational diving catch of Alex Rodriguez’s blistering line drive and flipped to J.J. Hardy at second to double off Jeter, who stood at third base as if hoping the umpires would reverse the call.
Out came Yankees manager Joe Girardi, hoping to influence the umpires into changing the call.
Cano followed with a double into the right-field corner. Chris Davis fired the ball to Andino, whose throw to the plate beat Ichiro by several seconds. Dare I say a full minute?
Ichiro leaped around Matt Wieters’ attempted tag, came back to the plate and executed what resembled a 5-year-old’s somersault, his body falling off to the side. Wieters lunged at him again, Ichiro completed his flip and slapped the plate, and umpire Angel Hernandez ruled him safe.
Orioles manager Buck Showalter came out of the dugout and put up a mild protest, but Wieters didn’t argue. His reaction said it all, along with the 72 replays shown by TBS. It appeared to be the correct call - a huge upset, considering that it came from Hernandez.
Chen threw 21 pitches in the inning and was charged with an unearned run.
Here’s a sampling of tweets that followed Ichiro’s acrobatic ... slide, dive, lunge, whatever we’re calling it:
@JeffPassan: There was the Electric Slide and the Macarena. Now we’ve got the Ichiro.
@keithlaw: Ichiro does his Dancy Dance audition for “Yo Gabba Gabba”
@jcrasnick: Ichiro with moves worthy of the Bolshoi Ballet. Or Spandau Ballet.
@ScottMCBS: Replays confirm Ichiro Flying Squirrel Suzuki safe.
@MarcCarig: This Suzaki has a bright future as a matador.
@BloggingBombers: Ichiro with one of the most unbelievable slides (?) I’ve ever seen to avoid the Wieters tag. It was like he was in The Matrix.
@SteveGarvey6: I’m going to Sushi tonight in Palm Desert and going to ask for a “Ichiro Roll”. Amazing!
Update: Andy Pettitte retired the first eight batters before Andino singled with two outs in the third. Nate McLouth singled after almost being hit in the head, Hardy walked and Davis came through with a two-run single to give the Orioles a 2-1 lead.
It should be 3-1. Adam Jones singled into left field, the ball sneaking past Derek Jeter’s backhanded attempt, but Hardy held at third. DeMarlo Hale was waving him home, but Hardy apparently thought Jeter had the ball.
Wieters popped up to end the inning.
Update II: Chen has thrown 96 pitches through six innings after racking up 21 in the first. Nice recovery. And his total would be lower if Hernandez hadn’t squeezed him with two strikes on Russell Martin, who later reached on Hardy’s second error in two nights.
A four-pitch fifth inning was huge.
Chen has allowed one unearned run and six hits, walked one and struck out three. No one is warming in the Orioles’ bullpen. Chen will return for the seventh with Eduardo Nunez, Jeter and Ichiro due up.
The Orioles are leading 3-1 after Wieters led off the bottom of the sixth with a double and scored on Reynolds’ single.