Ichiro Suzuki Overshadows Duel of Japanese Pitchers in Yankees' Walk-off 4-3 Win

Josh SchochAnalyst IIIJune 25, 2013

An all-Japanese pitching battle headlined the game between the Texas Rangers and New York Yankees on Tuesday night, as Yu Darvish and Hiroki Kuroda took to the mound for their respective teams.

However, the spotlight ended up being stolen by the best Japanese player of all-time—Ichiro Suzuki.

After belting just his second career walk-off home run, Ichiro's blast was the sixth longball of the night, as the Yanks walked off with a 4-3 victory over Darvish and the Rangers.

 

That's GOODNIGHT in the Bronx! Ichiro's 2nd career walk-off HR gives the Yankees a 4-3 win over Texas.

— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) June 26, 2013

 

Ichiro capped off a night that was dominated by Japanese players with the blast, and the country of Japan had to be watching.

 

That Ichiro hit a walk off HR in a game started by fellow countrymen Hiroki Kuroda and Yu Darvish makes for an awesome story in Japan.

— Jared Max (@Jared_Max) June 26, 2013

 

The night was supposed to belong to either Darvish or Kuroda, as both pitchers are having quite a season.

Darvish leads the MLB with 143 strikeouts, and he is trying to become the first pitcher to reach 300 strikeouts in a season since Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling did it in 2002 for the Arizona Diamondbacks. He has also posted a 7-3 record, accompanied by his 2.95 ERA and 1.00 WHIP.

Kuroda, on the other hand, is 7-5 with a 2.78 ERA and a 1.06 WHIP this year. He is having the best season of his career at 38 years old, and he has been crucial to the Yankees' success.

The two battled it out for most of the night, as Darvish went 5.1 innings and Kuroda went 6.2. Both pitchers gave up three runs, although one was unearned for Kuroda.

One of the early stories in the night was that Darvish gave up three home runs for the first time in his MLB career, surrendering one each to Travis Hafner, Brett Gardner and Jayson Nix.

 

Three HRs Yu Darvish allowed to Yankees marked first time he has allowed three in a game as a professional. Doubt he did as a prep, either.

— Jeff Wilson (@JeffWilson_FWST) June 26, 2013

 

However, as the game headed to the ninth inning, closer Marino Rivera came into a game tied at three and held the Rangers scoreless.

The Yanks would have one more chance to win the game before extra innings, but Gardner wasted Chris Stewart's lead off walk with a fielder's choice and then by getting caught stealing second.

Ichiro was left up with two outs in the bottom of the ninth, when he crushed a 1-2 pitch to right-centerfield to win the game.

It was the perfect ending to a game that started and ended with Japanese-born players in the headlines.