Leadoff men Ichiro Suzuki, Erick Aybar pull off unusual feat

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As the Angels were beating the Mariners 8-3 on Thursday night, Ichiro Suzuki and Erick Aybar became the first pair of leadoff men to drive in three runs in the same game in a season and a half.
Ichiro supplied all of Seattle’s runs on the night with a bases-loaded double in the fifth inning, giving him his first three-RBI game since April 15, 2009.
Aybar singled in two runs in the second and then one more in the sixth for his first three-RBI game since Aug. 17, 2009.
They were the first leadoff men to both plate three runs for their respective teams since Ian Kinsler and Grady Sizemore did so on April 9, 2009. Of course, those two accomplished it with a bit more power. Kinsler homered once and Sizemore went deep twice in the Rangers’ 12-8 win over the Indians.
Ichiro and Aybar, obviously, were far less likely candidates to combine for six RBI than Kinsler and Sizemore were. Among AL players, only Juan Pierre was averaging fewer RBI per AB than Aybar this season and Ichiro was right there as well. Here was the bottom eight headed into Thursday’s action:
1. Juan Pierre – 14/339 – .041
2. Nyjer Morgan – 14/329 – .043
3. Erick Aybar – 16/325 – .049
4. Ryan Theriot – 18/335 – .054
5. Michael Bourn – 20/321 – .062
6. Austin Jackson – 20/313 – .064
7. Todd Helton – 16/248 – .065
8. Ichiro Suzuki – 24/362 – .067

Brandon McCarthy wins final spot in Dodgers’ rotation

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We learned on Monday that Hyun-Jin Ryu won one of the final two spots in the Dodgers’ starting rotation. Brandon McCarthy has won the other, Bill Plunkett of the Orange County Register reports. Alex Wood was McCarthy’s competitor for the spot.

McCarthy, 33, posted a 4.85 ERA across four appearances spanning 13 innings this spring, yielding seven earned runs on 14 hits and a walk with seven strikeouts. Wood, a southpaw, gave up five earned runs in six innings against the Reds on Tuesday, which might have factored into the decision.

Last season, McCarthy made nine starts and one relief appearance, posting a 4.95 ERA with a 44/26 K/BB ratio in 40 innings. In the event McCarthy falters, the club has Wood as well as Julio Urias and the injured Scott Kazmir as potential replacements.

Yankees re-sign Jon Niese to a minor league deal

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The Yankees have re-signed pitcher Jon Niese to a minor league contract, George A. King III of the New York Post reports. Niese was released on Sunday, but he’ll stick around and provide rotation depth for the Yankees.

Niese had knee surgery last August and got a late start to spring training as a result. In six spring appearances lasting an inning each, the lefty gave up three earned runs on five hits and a walk with five strikeouts.

Niese, a veteran of nine seasons, put up an aggregate 5.50 ERA with an 88/47 K/BB ratio in 121 innings last season between the Pirates and Mets.