They’ll call it “The Ichiro Shuffle.”
The Yankees struck first tonight in Game 2 of the ALDS against the Orioles. Derek Jeter led off the game with a single and Ichiro Suzuki reached on an error before Robert Andino made an excellent diving catch off a hard-hit ball of the bat of Alex Rodriguez. Andino then flipped it to J.J. Hardy at second base to double off Jeter. If Ichiro wasn’t alert enough to stay at first, it’s possible it could have been a triple play.
Wei-Yin Chen had a chance to get out of the inning with no damage, but Robinson Cano smacked one into the right-field corner. It appeared that Ichiro would be held up at third base, but he ended up getting sent home by third base coach Rob Thomson. He was going to be out by a mile, but managed to do some pretty nifty footwork to avoid the tag by Matt Wieters before diving and touching home plate to give the Yankees a 1-0 lead. Any description won’t do it justice, so we’ll have to wait for the video. Truly classic stuff.
Andy Pettitte sat the Orioles down in order in the bottom of the first inning, so it’s 1-0 Yankees as we move to the second in Baltimore.
UPDATE: Ah yes, the video. The glorious video:
Everyone is well aware of how good Angels outfielder Mike Trout is at the game of baseball. The 26-year-old is already an all-time great, having won two MVP awards — and arguably deserving of two others — and the 2012 Rookie of the Year Award. He has accrued 54.2 WAR, per Baseball Reference, which is right around the threshold for a Hall of Fame career. Trout does it all: he draws walks, he hits for average, he hits for power, he steals bases, he plays good defense.
But here’s an achievement that is amazing even for a player like Trout: he has yet to strike out this spring. In 41 Cactus League plate appearances, he has 10 hits (including a triple and two homers) and six walks with zero strikeouts. Across his career, Trout has a 21.5 percent strikeout rate, right around the league average. He isn’t usually such a stickler for avoiding the punch-out, but this spring he is.
To put this in perspective, 134 players this spring have struck out at least 10 times, according to MLB.com. 938 players have struck out at least once. The only other players to have taken at least 10 at-bats without striking out this spring are Humberto Arteaga (Royals, 23 AB), Tony Cruz (Reds, 18 AB), Oscar Hernandez (Red Sox, 10 AB), and Jacob Stallings (Pirates, 18 AB).
According to Angels assistant hitting coach Paul Sorrento, the lack of strikeouts hasn’t been a conscious effort from Trout, Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register reports. Ho hum. The best player in baseball is apparently getting even better.