Baseball / MLB

Mariners starter Yusei Kikuchi looks strong in victory over Yankees

AP

Facing the famous New York Yankees for the very first time, Yusei Kikuchi really stuck it to ’em.

Maybe he had a little illicit help.

Kikuchi pitched brilliantly into the eighth inning and Ryon Healy had four extra-base hits as the Seattle Mariners routed New York 10-1 on Wednesday night.

The rookie left-hander allowed only three soft hits in 7⅔ innings. After the game, Yankees manager Aaron Boone said he was aware cameras showed a dark substance — perhaps illegal pine tar — smudged under the brim of Kikuchi’s cap.

“I heard they were talking about it, so I was made aware of it sometime like in the eighth inning there,” Boone said. “So, I’ll take a look at it and we’ll kind of see what we can make of it.”

A team spokesman for the Mariners said Kikuchi would not comment about whatever was on his hat.

Though it’s against the rules for pitchers to put any foreign substance on the ball, word is many of them often use pine tar on their fingers or some other sticky material to help with their grip.

It’s one of baseball’s worst-kept secrets. But pitchers are usually pretty discreet about it, and plenty of hitters would rather face a pitcher with reliable control than one who might let slip a 155-kph fastball sailing toward their neck.

Still, pitchers have been punished in the past for putting pine tar on the ball — former Yankees right-hander Michael Pineda was ejected and suspended after getting caught in Boston.

Healy homered and hit three doubles to help the Mariners win for only the second time in 10 games. Mitch Haniger and Edwin Encarnacion also went deep as Seattle (20-19), which opened 13-2 this year, snapped a seven-game losing streak at Yankee Stadium and avoided dropping below .500 for the first time since the final day of the 2017 season.

“This is the place where all the history of baseball is the center point,” Kikuchi said through a translator. “I was really excited to go up there and it was amazing.”

After walking his first batter, Kikuchi (2-1) retired 16 in a row before Mike Tauchman fisted a bloop double over third base with one out in the sixth for New York’s first hit. DJ LeMahieu followed with a single, and Luke Voit’s sacrifice fly prevented a shutout.

Facing an injury-depleted Yankees lineup stacked with eight right-handed hitters, Kikuchi was in complete control during his second consecutive stellar outing. Featuring an effective slider and curve, he struck out three and walked one while throwing 74 strikes on 106 pitches, his most in nine major league starts.

Dodgers 9, Braves 4

In Los Angeles, Enriqué Hernández, Max Muncy and Justin Turner each homered, and the Dodgers downed Atlanta for their 10th straight win at home, where they earned a third consecutive sweep.

Clayton Kershaw (2-0) gave up four runs and a season-high nine hits in 6 innings. He struck out a season-low four and walked one.

Tigers 10, Angels 3

In Detroit, Ronny Rodriguez drove in a career-high four runs and Matthew Boyd pitched six strong innings, helping the Tigers rout Los Angeles.

Shohei Ohtani, who was 0-for-4 for the Angels in his season debut Tuesday, was 0-for-3 with two strikeouts and was hit on his right elbow by a pitch.

Twins 9, Blue Jays 1

In Toronto, Jorge Polanco had his second career five-hit game, including a two-run home run, Kyle Gibson (3-1) struck out a career-high 11 and Minnesota beat the hosts, completing a three-game sweep.

Eddie Rosario hit his AL-leading 13th home run, one of four long balls by the Twins.

In Other Games

Diamondbacks 3, Rays 2 (13)

Cubs 3, Marlins 2 (11)

Red Sox 2, Orioles 1 (12)

Indians 5, White Sox 3

Rangers 9, Pirates 6

Phillies 5, Cardinals 0

Astros 9, Royals 0

Padres 3, Mets 2

Athletics 5, Reds 4 (13)

Brewers 7, Nationals 3

Giants at Rockies — ppd.