NEW YORK — Ichiro Suzuki stood in right field of a packed Yankee Stadium, wearing New York’s famed pinstripes for the first time, and needed a reality check.
“In Japan we say you grab your cheek, you twist your cheek, to see if it’s real or not, to see if I’m not dreaming,” Suzuki said. “And that’s really how I feel right now.”
Oh it was real all right, Ichiro.
Raul Ibanez and Russell Martin hit two-run homers, Curtis Granderson capped the scoring with an eighth-inning grand slam and the Yankees powered past the slumping Boston Red Sox 10-3 on Friday night.
In Suzuki’s first home game with the Yankees, Phil Hughes (10-8) gave up three solo homers but little else in seven innings to help the Yankees beat Boston for the sixth time in seven games this year — New York’s best start to a season against the Red Sox since opening 6-0 in 1994.
The rivals were meeting in the Bronx for the first time this year, the latest in a non-strike season the teams have met at Yankee Stadium. New York was returning from a rough 2-5 trip in which the Yankees lost Alex Rodriguez to a broken hand. The Red Sox had won just once in six games coming in. The loss dropped them to 49-51.
“We’re two games under .500. We’re the Boston Red Sox, so if anyone’s thrilled with where we’re at they better re-evaluate because I don’t like losing. I know everyone else doesn’t like losing,” Boston second baseman Dustin Pedroia said. “We’ve got to play better, now.”
With the Red Sox foundering in last place in the AL East and David Ortiz and Rodriguez on the disabled list, it felt as if the rivalry had lost some of its luster. Suzuki’s presence helped give the game some buzz.
The 10-time All-Star was dealt to New York during its visit to Seattle on Monday. He started in right field and batted eighth Friday. Suzuki was met with a sustained ovation followed by chants of “Iiiichiro,” when he came up for the first time in the second inning. He hit a fly to center field.
In his second at-bat, he singled and scored on Martin’s two-run homer to left field off Aaron Cook (2-4). Suzuki finished 1-for-4 and scored twice, including his first run with the Yankees.
“”It has been a while since this type of experience,” Suzuki said of the atmosphere and winning attitude in New York.
Almost as if they were toying with Boston in Bobby Valentine’s first trip to New York as a manager since he was fired by the Mets in 2002, the Yankees scored in the bottom half of each of the three innings the Red Sox homered.
Pedroia gave Boston the lead with a drive to left off Hughes on a full-count pitch in the first. But Ibanez followed with a two-run shot in the bottom half when the Yankees scored three times after the Red Sox failed to turn what could have been an easy inning-ending double play.
With runners on first and third and shortstop Mike Aviles behind second base in a shift, Mark Teixeira hit a routine grounder to Pedroia. He made a quick toss to Aviles, who was slow to make the turn and Teixeira beat the throw. A run scored and Ibanez then hit a line drive into the first few rows of the short right field porch.
“Tex did a great job of hustling that out,” Ibanez said. “He was responsible for that inning.”
Valentine said of the missed opportunity:
“He’s playing the shift and he comes over to the base from the other side. It was an awkward throw,” he said.
In the third, Carl Crawford homered for the first time this season — in his 10th game — after missing the first 90 because of wrist surgery and several setbacks. Teixeira had a sacrifice fly in the bottom of the inning.
The catchers traded long balls in the fourth. Jarrod Saltalamacchia hit his 20th of the year. Martin responded with his 11th for a 6-3 lead.
Hughes retired 10 of his final 11 batters, allowing only a walk to Jacoby Ellsbury in the fifth. Overall he yielded five hits and one walk. Hughes struck out five. The three homers gave him 25, tying him for the major league lead with Seattle’s Jason Vargas.
“He did a nice job after we got the lead to 6-3,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. “He settled down nicely.”
Cook gave up six runs and seven hits in four innings for Boston.
Yankees third baseman Eric Chavez was hit by a pitch above the right ankle in the eighth. X-rays were negative but he said the leg was sore. Already not scheduled to play Saturday, Chavez said he was not sure if he would be able to pinch-hit Saturday. He has to see how he feels in the morning.
Granderson hit the Yankees’ seventh grand slam this season off former New York reliever Mark Melancon.
NOTES: In the 1981, strike-interrupted season, the Red Sox first played in New York on Sept. 11. … Ortiz had his walking boot removed and tested his strained right Achilles by taking batting practice before the game. … Girardi said RF Nick Swisher (hip flexor) might play Saturday. … Yankees RHP Joba Chamberlain (dislocated ankle) is scheduled to make a rehab appearance for Double-A Trenton on Sunday.