For Phillies, Yankees' Matsui has meant frustration

Hideki Matsui connects for a two-run homer to give the Yankees the lead in the second inning.
Hideki Matsui connects for a two-run homer to give the Yankees the lead in the second inning.
Posted: November 05, 2009

NEW YORK - Dare ga Goshujin-sama da?

That, loosely, is how you say, "Who's Your Daddy?" in Japanese.

Such mockery never would fall from the lips of Hideki Matsui, an honorable Yankee, nor, probably, from his legion of fans.

And we don't know who Matsui's daddy is. But we know this.

It ain't Pedro.

Matsui's two-run homer in the second inning and his two-run single in the third pushed across the Yankees' first runs of the Yankees' 7-3 win in Game 6, clinching the World Series.

All came against Phillies starter Pedro Martinez, he who brought himself years of Yankee taunting after a loss to them as a Red Sox in 2004, when he called the Yankees his "Daddy."

Matsui's production last night completed a World Series ownership of Martinez. He singled, walked and popped the go-ahead homer in Game 2 of the Series here that Martinez lost. His six RBI last night tied the World Series record set by the Yankees' Bobby Richardson in Game 3 in 1960 against the Pirates - a series the Yankees lost but saw Richardson win the MVP.

Now, sai yushu sensh is another story. Matsui's fans will be chanting that one forever.

It means, "MVP."

That's the World Series award Matsui locked up in the fifth inning when he drove a two-run double to right-centerfield against lefty reliever J.A. Happ. Those were his fifth and sixth RBI, which tied Bobby Richardson's record total in Game 3 of the 1960 World Series against the Pirates.

A couple of hours after that hit, he was standing on a stage in shallow centerfield, handling both trophies.

"I can say it is the best moment of my life," he said soon afterward.

Matsui finished the series 8-for-13 with three homers and eight RBI. He is the only full-time DH to win the World Series MVP trophy – and, as such, he might not have won it without last night's explosion.

Happ was warmed up in the third when, with two outs, Phillies manager Charlie Manuel chose to keep Martinez in the game to face Matsui, who bats lefthanded.

Martinez gave up the single to Matsui, got the next out, cruised through the fourth and was done. Happ was the second reliever of the inning, inheriting Mark Teixeira and Alex Rodriguez.

Happ was not the answer last night against Matsui, as good against lefties this season as he was against righthanders.

This is the difference Matsui can make.

When the Phillies returned to their National League home park and lost the designated hitter for the middle games of the World Series, they lost from their lineup Ben Francisco and his 15 home runs and 46 RBI in 2009, plus his zero career postseason production.

The Yankees lost Matsui, and his 28 homers, 90 RBI, not to mention his .303 postseason average in 55 playoff games, with nine homers and 33 RBI.

And, while Francisco is an upgrade from Raul Ibanez in leftfield - Ibanez was the DH in New York - yes, the Yankees were elated to have Matsui back in the lineup last night.

"He's very important to us," Johnny Damon said Tuesday.

"He's been a huge hitter in our lineup during the course of the season, a great RBI guy, big hits, home runs," said manager Joe Girardi. "So that's a very good thing."

It was Matsui whose solo homer was the difference in Game 2 against Pedro Martinez, who also allowed Matsui a single and a walk. He didn't leave his bat in New York, either.

Matsui made a 7-4 game 8-4 with a two-out, pinch-hit homer in Game 3 off Brett Myers, making a Phillies comeback that much less likely. He was in the middle of the ninth-inning rally in Game 5, his single setting up the run that cut the score to the final, 8-5.

He is Alex Rodriguez' protection. He is consistent postseason production.

And he might be in a different uniform soon.

Does he think he could be back?

"Yes, I hope so," Matsui said. "I love New York, I love the Yankees, I love these fans."

Matsui, 35, is the designated hitter largely because he's playing on a pair of surgically repaired knees. He is a free-agent outfielder in an outfield crowded with talented youngsters, on a team that last season committed $180 million to switch-hitter Mark Teixeira and, before the 2008 season, committed $275 million to A-Rod - both of whom regularly can be DH candidates.

"I have not thought of that," he said last night. "I only am thinking of this."

Damon also is a free agent with a lot of pop left in his bat and, at 36 and nothing near the outfielder he once was, is a possible candidate to DH if he returns.

Matsui drew "ahhs" from the crowd as he launched batting-practice home runs last night, a throng of Japanese press tracking every ball's trajectory. He did it with the focus he has shown since he arrived in the States in 2003, Godzilla taking New York, and New York welcoming him.

He did it having represented the Yankees the Yankee Way, with professionalism, and dignity, and excellent performance – exactly what would be expected from a three-time champion in Japan.

And a one-time World Series champion, and MVP.

"It's hard to make the comparison," Matsui said last night.

Last night, there was no comparison.

He was everybody's Goshujin-sama da.

Stripes

Nick Swisher last night started in rightfield after being benched in Game 2 in favor of Jerry Hairston Jr., who had good numbers against Pedro Martinez; Hairston responded with a single that led to the Yankees' third run against Martinez. Swisher was 4-for-35 in 10 playoff games to that point, and was 2-for-9 since returning to the lineup in Game 3, but his at-bats had been better, Girardi said, so, he started last night. . . . Johnny Damon left Game 6 last night with a strained right calf. Hairston replaced him.

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