Matsui homered for the first time in three weeks, one of three two-run shots the Los Angeles Angels used to back spot starter Sean O’Sullivan(notes) in a 10-2 victory over the New York Yankees on Tuesday night.
The Yankee Stadium crowd of 47,775 gave “Godzilla” a warm reception as he rounded the bases in the seventh inning after hitting his 11th homer, first since June 26. It was nothing like the raucous cheers Matsui received when he was given his 2009 World Series championship ring on opening day in the Bronx.
“It’s nice to receive that,” Matsui said through an interpreter of Tuesday’s praise. “It’s nothing but appreciation to all the fans here.”
In his first season with the Angels after seven with the Yankees, Matsui still seems to have his heart in New York. He told reporters that his World Series ring has never left his Manhattan apartment and there was a shopping bag from the gourmet grocery, Citarella, sitting in front of his locker.
Angels manager Mike Scioscia hopes Matsui can leave the city having found his hitting groove—he came in a 4-for-28 skid.
“He hit an offspeed pitch and that’s good to see,” Scioscia said. “Hideki’s been searching a little bit, his last 50 at-bats or so, definitely not driving the ball. Hopefully that’s a good sign.”
Maicer Izturis(notes) and Mike Napoli(notes) also hit two-run homers for the Angels, and Napoli had a two-run single in the ninth to make it 10-2, the second time in three games the Yankees allowed 10 runs.
O’Sullivan (1-0) was starting in place of Scott Kazmir(notes), who was put on the disabled list Sunday because of shoulder fatigue. Called up from Triple-A Salt Lake earlier Tuesday, O’Sullivan never checked his phone messages Monday night and didn’t know he would be starting against the Yankees until he arrived at the ballpark.
He shook off a two-run first inning filled with jitters from pitching at Yankee Stadium and retired 12 in a row. In six innings, he allowed two hits, three walks and struck out four.
“After that first inning I kind of realized, ‘Hey you, it’s just baseball. Just go out and pitch and do what you do: get ahead of guys, change speeds and try not to do to much,”’ O’Sullivan said. In the first inning, “I was thinking, ‘Don’t look up. Just try to take the great stadium part out of it.”’
Izturis homered in his first game back after missing 27 with a left forearm strain. His fourth-inning drive gave the Angels a 4-2 lead. Napoli connected in the fifth.
“He didn’t have much command on his fastball and he got beat with his cutter,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said.
Hughes has struggled since mid-May. He began the season allowing two earned runs or less in six straight starts but has given up more than two runs in eight of 11 starts since. The six runs he gave up Tuesday matched a season high for earned runs.
“It was kind of an extended break but it didn’t really matter,” Hughes said of not pitching since July 9. “Command-wise, it wasn’t good.”
The Yankees had hoped to get more than five-plus innings from Hughes after A.J. Burnett(notes) and Andy Pettitte(notes) both left their starts this weekend in the third inning. Burnett cut his hands hitting double doors in the clubhouse in a fit of frustration and Pettitte strained his groin and will be out four to five weeks. Burnett should make his next start.
Girardi was ejected in the sixth inning after objecting to Mark Teixeira(notes) being called out at first base on a groundout. As he was walking toward the clubhouse with his book of statistics tucked under his arm Girardi threw a wad of gum onto the field. It was his third ejection this season.
NOTES: O’Sullivan made four relief appearances this season for Los Angeles. … Jorge Posada(notes) was given second base when Angels catcher Napoli touched a pitch that bounced in the dirt with his mask. Napoli was given an error by rule — illegal use of equipment. … The Angels also recalled RHP Trevor Bell(notes) from Salt Lake and optioned Cory Aldridge(notes) to their top minor league club. Bell pitched a scoreless ninth.