New York Minute

November 5, 2009 9:42 AM

Sensational Sendoff for Matsui?

matsui.jpgIf this was his last game as a Yankee, it was quite a sendoff for Hideki Matsui.


The Japanese legend practically won Game 6 of the World Series singlehandedly for the Yankees Wednesday night, and earned MVP honors in the process.


His batting line reads like final four digits of a lost telephone number: 4-1-3-6. That's four at-bats, one run, three hits and six RBIs.


"I guess you could say this is the best moment of my life right now," Matsui said through an interpreter.


Certainly there were more to the Yankees than Matsui last night, but the Phillies, and more specifically Pedro Martinez, couldn't find a way to get him out.


He hit a two-run home run in the second inning to stake the Bombers to a 2-0 lead, and then delivered another two-run single in the third inning to make it 4-1. He followed with a booming double in the fifth off of J.A. Happ that drove in two more runs, and he was just a triple shy of hitting for the cycle.


He became the first Japanese player and the first designated hitter to win MVP honors, but he was a most deserving choice.


For the series, Matsui hit .615 with eight hits in 13 at-bats with three home runs and eight RBIs. It didn't matter who the Phillies had on the mound, they had difficulty getting him out.


The six RBIs in one game tied a record set by the Yankees' Bobby Richardson in 1960, and his eight RBIs for the Series matched a record that has not been touched since Reggie Jackson did it for the Bombers in 1977 and '78.


The ironic twist in all of this is that it may have been the final game in the Yankees' pinstripes.


He is in the final year of his contract, and he has battled injuries in two of the past four years. He is 35 years old, and with his aching knees rarely plays the outfield any more. He was only a decent left fielder even when he was healthy.


Matsui had a terrific year in the middle of the Yankees' lineup, hitting 28 home runs and collecting 90 RBIs. This came after a down year in 2008, when he hit just nine home runs in 93 games. He also played just 51 games in 2006, hitting eight home runs with 29 RBIs.


The Yankees have a decision to make regarding Matsui, because it's unlikely they will keep both him and Johnny Damon, who is also eligible to walk this year. Damon can still play the outfield, at least a little bit, which makes him more likely to be retained. It is possible that both aging outfielders could be on different teams next year.

But none of that was on their minds last night, when Matsui ripped through the Phillies and helped deliver World Series No. 27 to the Bronx. He might be on his way out, but if he is, he certainly delivered a memorable farewell speech.



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