Mattingly, Dodgers salvage split at Yankee Stadium
By HOWIE RUMBERG
NEW YORK — Yasiel Puig kicked back in his chair, his well-worn uniform streaked in red clay, and calmly answered questions in Spanish. Then, suddenly, he threw his hands in the air and shouted, “Pow!”
In any language, he’s about as unpredictable off the field as he is on it, and everyone in baseball is riveted.
Puig homered to complete a dazzling debut in New York, helping Los Angeles beat the Yankees 6-0 Wednesday for a split of their day-night doubleheader. The Dodgers salvaged manager Don Mattingly’s return to the Bronx after a 6-4 loss in the opener.
Hanley Ramirez capped a six-hit day with a pair of RBI singles in the nightcap. Still, he looked quizzically at a group of reporters when they gathered to talk about perhaps his best day of an injury-marred season.
“It’s all about Puig,” he said.
Not quite, but Mattingly thinks adding the Cuban with just 15 major league games of experience to a lineup along with Adrian Gonzalez and Ramirez may key the Dodgers getting out of the NL West cellar.
“Hanley, for me, I’ve said it since he came over. I think he’s one of the best hitters in the game,” Mattingly said. “The way Yasiel’s swinging the bat, if Adrian continues to swing the bat the way he’s capable of, that’s a pretty potent trio of guys.”
Chris Capuano (2-5) pitched three-hit ball for six innings in his comeback from the disabled list. The Dodgers rebounded from a sloppy loss to former teammate Hiroki Kuroda (7-5) in a matchup between injury-ravaged teams with $200 million payrolls.
“Would’ve been better to get two, but we’ll take one,” Mattingly said. “It felt good.”
In the first meeting between the teams in New York since the Dodgers clinched the 1981 World Series title with a Game 6 victory at old Yankee Stadium, Ichiro Suzuki homered, drove in three runs and made a spectacular catch on the warning track for the Yankees.
New York got help from reliever Ronald Belisario’s two errors on the same play in a three-run seventh.
The clubs played a split doubleheader because of a rainout Tuesday night. The announced attendance for both games between the old October rivals who’ve met in a record 11 World Series topped a total of 80,000, although there were many empty seats.
The Dodgers started out quickly against Phil Hughes (3-6), who allowed a season-high 10 hits and five runs in six innings.
“You’ve got to hit your spots,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. “You can mix some good pitches and try to do some of that, too, but it comes down to not making mistakes and he made some mistakes.”
The first four batters reached on singles with Puig bunting for a hit and Ramirez getting his fifth hit of the day — an RBI single. Gonzalez also drove in a run but Tim Federowicz grounded into a 5-4-3 double play to end the rally.
Gonzalez doubled in the third and scored on Andre Ethier’s two-base hit after Ramirez made an out for the first time.
Ethier helped quash a Yankees rally in the fourth, throwing out Robinson Cano trying for a double with none out to the delight of 85-year-old Hall of Fame broadcaster Vin Scully, who was making his first foray into Twitter.
“I think Andre Ethier has done a really good job in Center Field. Especially for someone who has played Right Field for years. #VinScully,” he tweeted.
Puig homered to right field leading off the seventh to make it 6-0.
In the opener, Puig tried throwing out a runner at first on a single to right field. He was also caught trying to turn a routine single into double in the first inning — then made it work on a ball hit into only a slightly better spot in the eighth, eliciting an ovation from the very vocal Dodgers fans, who out-hollered Yankees fans on many occasions.
The cheers were especially loud from all fans for Mattingly in his return — even if he was wearing the wrong shade of blue.
The Bleacher Creatures chanted “Donnie Baseball!” during each game, and fans cheered a video tribute in the opener and a live shot of Mattingly in the visitor’s dugout in the nightcap. The 1985 AL MVP tipped his cap in appreciation.
In the second game, Puig bunted for a hit, was hit by a pitch, stole a base to help manufacture a run and hit his fifth homer.
“You can recognize the tools right away,” Girardi OVERSET FOLLOWS:said after Game 1. “There’s an awful lot to like about this kid.”
Ramirez went 4 for 4 with a two-run homer in the eighth in the day game, and drove in Puig twice to help make Capuano’s return from a strained upper back muscle easy. He entered 1-4 with a 5.45 ERA in eight games — six starts — and has been on the DL twice. But he was nasty Wednesday in his first scoreless start since August 2012.
“I was a really happy with the way I felt,” Capuano said.
Kuroda gave up two runs and eight hits in 6 2-3 innings to outpitch South Korean rookie Hyun-Jin Ryu (6-3) in the afternoon. Ryu allowed a two-run double to Lyle Overbay and a homer to Suzuki in the sixth.
With runners on first and second in the seventh, Belisario let Vernon Wells’ meek pop in front of the mound drop for an error. Jayson Nix advanced to third on the drop and scored when Belisario threw the ball into center field trying to get Cano at second base. Belisario hit Thomas Neal with a pitch, then Suzuki greeted Paco Rodriguez with a blooped two-run single to make it 6-2.
Ramirez hit a two-run homer off Preston Claiborne after Suzuki robbed Gonzalez of an extra-base hit in the eighth to pull the Dodgers to 6-4. But Mariano Rivera came on in the ninth and struck out Puig to end it for his 25th save.
“I felt so happy to face the best, not only the best pitcher in the league but the best closer,” Puig said through a translator. “I wanted a base hit off him but he beat me like he beat everybody in the big leagues.”
NOTES: New Brooklyn Nets coach Jason Kidd threw out the ceremonial first pitch before the second game. Before the game he talked with Rivera in the dugout. … The Dodgers optioned outfielder Alex Castellanos to Triple-A Albuquerque. Castellanos went 0 for 2 in the opener.
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