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:
Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia reports that Phillies owner John Middleton flew to Las Vegas for a meeting with Bryce Harper on Friday. Per ESPN’s Jeff Passan, it’s “more of a meet-and-greet than a sign-a-deal” affair, but as the club is still at the forefront of trade rumors involving the All-Star slugger, there remains a possibility (however slight) that something could be completed in the days to come.
Even now, the Phillies aren’t alone in the race to sign Harper, but recent rumors have helped whittle down the competition from five or more teams (Phillies, Nationals, White Sox, Giants, and Padres) to three strong contenders. The Giants are said to be interested in a lucrative short-term deal with the outfielder, while the Padres remain in the conversation despite inking Manny Machado to a mammoth 10-year, $300 million contract this week. It’s not yet clear just how far either team would go to outbid Philadelphia as talks with Harper intensify.
As for the Nationals and White Sox, the former officially bowed out earlier today, and MLB Network’s Jon Heyman adds that the latter won’t make a strong play for Harper as they feel the asking price and competing offers are “getting too high” for the 26-year-old’s services. If a mystery team is still in the mix, there’s been no word on their standing with Harper in the last month or so.