REUTERS AND AP, NEW YORK
A packed Yankee Stadium crowd lavished love on their World Series heroes on Opening Day at the ballyard on Tuesday, saving their biggest cheers for Los Angeles Angels designated hitter Hideki Matsui.
Matsui, Most Valuable Player of New York’s World Series triumph over the Philadelphia Phillies, swapped jerseys during the off-season to join the Angels as a free agent.
New York fans, notorious for their “Bronx cheers” of derision they usually shower on opposing players, showed affection for Matsui in a moving salute to the Japanese slugger during a ceremony to hand out World Series rings.
White-gold rings were presented to every Yankee coach and player, with captain Derek Jeter taking the last bow for the home team, exchanging hugs with manager Joe Girardi, 10-time Yankee champion Yogi Berra and six-time winner Whitey Ford.
It was then announced there was one more ring to hand out and cheers built to a deafening roar as Matsui left the visiting dugout to receive his prize.
As Matsui tipped his hat to the fans, the Yankee players who had lined up between first and second ran in and surrounded “Godzilla” in a unique reunion in the middle of the infield.
“I was very deeply moved by that moment. It was something I did not anticipate at all,” Matsui told reporters after the 7-5 loss to New York. “It was something I will remember forever.”
Matsui was so stunned by the gesture that he failed to recognize a prank pulled by Jeter, who substituted a giveaway ring handed to fans at spring training for the glittery diamond-studded ring that Girardi later gave to the slugger.
“Jeet thought it would be appropriate to put it in Matsui’s box and play with him,” Girardi said.
The last time he had stepped on the diamond in the Bronx, Matsui received the World Series MVP trophy after an incredible November night at the plate against the Philadelphia Phillies when he drove in six runs in New York’s World Series clincher.
Hugs and back slaps were exchanged between Jeter and Matsui, who became good friends during the Japanese player’s seven seasons in pinstripes, enjoying a final moment before heading in opposite directions to start the game.
“He’s been one of my favorites team mates I’ve ever played with,” said the Yankee shortstop, who collected his fifth World Series ring. “He’s a professional who comes out there every single day ready to play. He never makes excuses.”
“I remember when he broke his wrist,” added Jeter, recalling an injury Matsui suffered while diving for a catch. “He apologized to the team for breaking his wrist. I had never seen that before. I think it’s only fitting that he’s here for Opening Day.”
MARINERS 3, ATHLETICS 0
At Seattle, Milton Bradley hit a three-run homer in the eighth inning to power the Mariners to a much-needed 3-0 victory over the Oakland Athletics.
BLUE JAYS 4, WHITE SOX 2
At Toronto, Ricky Romero’s bid for a no-hitter ended in the eighth when Alex Rios homered.
Romero struck out a career-high 12 and was in complete control until hitting AJ Pierzynski with a pitch to start the eighth. Rios followed with a no-doubt drive to deep left for Chicago’s only hit.
Kevin Gregg worked the ninth for his third save as Toronto won for the 11th time in 12 games against the White Sox at Rogers Center.
Gavin Floyd allowed four runs and nine hits in six innings for Chicago.
In other games it was:
• Rays 8, Orioles 6, 10 innings
• Tigers 6, Royals 5
AP, LOS ANGELES
Manny Ramirez homered for the first time this season, the first of four longballs by the Dodgers, as Los Angeles beat the Arizona Diamondbacks 9-5 on Tuesday to win its home opener for the third consecutive year.
Casey Blake hit a two-run drive, Matt Kemp added a solo shot and Andre Ethier hit a three-run homer for the Dodgers. Blake went 1 for 2 with a walk and is batting .389, carrying over his strong spring into the regular season.
Ramirez, Kemp and Ethier homered in the same game for the second time since Ramirez joined the Dodgers in 2008.
Clayton Kershaw (1-0) allowed two runs and three hits in 5 1/3 innings for Los Angeles.
Ian Kennedy (0-1) gave up six runs and six hits over 4 1-3 innings.
REDS 10, MARLINS 8, 11 INNINGS
At Miami, Joey Votto drove in the go-ahead run with a two-out single in the 11th inning as Cincinnati beat Florida in extra innings for the second night in a row.
Jonny Gomes and Ryan Hanigan hit three-run homers for the Reds.
Brandon Phillips had four hits, including an RBI single in the 11th.
The Reds won despite blowing a 6-1 lead. They beat the Marlins 6-5 in 10 innings in the series opener on Monday.
Jorge Cantu of Florida singled home a run and became the first player since 1921 to have at least one hit and one RBI in the first eight games of a season. Dan Meyer (0-1) got the loss.
Micah Owings (2-0) struck out three in two scoreless innings.
Francisco Cordero pitched a perfect 11th for his fourth save in four chances.
PIRATES 6, GIANTS 5
At San Francisco, Garrett Jones had three hits and two RBIs, including the go-ahead run in the eighth inning, as the Pittsburgh Pirates beat the Giants.
Akinori Iwamura and Andy LaRoche homered for the Pirates.
Evan Meek pitched two scoreless innings for the win and Octavio Dotel allowed two runs in the ninth before finishing for his second save in two opportunities.
Eugenio Velez homered and drove in three runs for the Giants, who lost for just the second time.
ROCKIES 11, METS 3
At Denver, Greg Smith won for the first time in 19 months, riding a six-run third inning by Colorado to the victory.
Smith struck out eight over seven innings, allowing two runs and six hits. He replaced fellow lefthander Jeff Francis in the Rockies’ rotation at the end of spring training.
Smith also collected his first career RBIs when he stroked a run-scoring double into the left-field alley in the third and plated another run with a fielder’s choice groundout in the seventh.
New York’s John Maine (0-1) equaled a career high by allowing eight runs in just three innings. He also yielded seven hits and walked three.
Chen Jifang hits the gym for at least two hours every day and has the physique to prove it. At nearly 70, she is being held up as a shining example as China orders its vast population to get fit and lose the bulge. The grandmother from Shanghai has become a minor celebrity in in the past few months after her newfound and unlikely love for working out made national headlines. After becoming a gym regular in December 2018, Chen lost 14kg in three months, and now sports the kind of flat stomach and toned muscles that people decades younger aspire to. She
’SO CONSISTENT’: The victory gave the world No. 1 and world No. 2 a 21-1 win-loss record and their fourth title of the season after successes in Brisbane, Dubai and Doha Taiwan’s Hsieh Su-wei and Barbora Strycova of the Czech Republic on Sunday cruised to their fourth women’s doubles title of the season at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome in their first tournament back since the suspension of the WTA Tour due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The top seeds took just 63 minutes to complete a comprehensive 6-2, 6-2 victory over unseeded German-Romanian duo Anna-Lena Friedsam and Raluca Olaru at the Foro Italico. It was the Taiwanese-Czech pairing’s first outing since they won the Qatar Open in February. “After five months, you don’t know what to expect,” Strycova told the WTA Web site.
ANOTHER SCANDAL: Searches focused on several riders, including Dayer Quintana, a source said, while the two being held were reportedly a doctor and physiotherapist French police on Monday detained two people as part of an investigation into suspected doping in the Arkea-Samsic team at this year’s Tour de France, prosecutors announced. The probe is the first significant one in several years for the repeatedly scandal-hit tour, which on Sunday wrapped up in Paris with a victory for 21-year-old Tadej Pogacar, who became the youngest winner in more than a century. Prosecutor Dominique Laurens in Marseille said in a statement that an investigation was being carried out into a “small part” of France-based Arkea-Samsic, without specifying who had been placed in custody. Laurens added that the two
Former MLB pitcher Wang Wei-chung has signed the biggest contract with a local team in Taiwan’s professional baseball history, the Wei Chuan Dragons said yesterday. The 28-year-old left-hander signed a five-year US$2.08 million contract with the Dragons, team chairman Hsu Wen-fang told a news conference. It is the biggest contract in the CPBL’s 31-year history, surpassing a three-year, US$1.36 million deal Lin Chih-sheng signed in 2016 with the CTBC Brothers. Although the overall value of Wang’s deal set a new record, his average monthly salary of NT$990,000 (US$33,886) is lower than Lin’s pay of NT$1.2 million per month in 2017