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Yoshinobu Yamamoto aces Yankee Stadium debut as Dodgers beat Bombers in 11 innings

As Yoshinobu Yamamoto prepared for his first start at Yankee Stadium, the Dodgers’ righty showed off his arm well before he took the mound.

Yamamoto, known for his unique routine, could be seen throwing from right-center field to a partner stationed on the left field foul line. Without utilizing a crow-hop at times, the Japanese star nailed his target on a line from hundreds of feet away as Yankees and well-traveled Dodgers fans watched from their seats.

At 60 feet, six inches, Yamamoto demonstrated more precision from the bump in the Bronx.

Pitching against the team he spurned in free agency — and baseballs’ top offense — for the first time, the 25-year-old threw 72 of his 106 pitches for strikes while yielding two walks over seven scoreless innings. Both free passes came in Yamamoto’s last two innings of work, and he allowed just as many hits in the game.

“Yoshinobu kind of feasts on a lot of eyeballs, the moment, and he’s pitched in a lot of big games in his career,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said before the Dodgers’ 2-1, 11-inning, series-opening win. “This is just going to be another experience for him. But I know for sure that this moment, this stage, won’t be too big for him.”

While Roberts didn’t expect the home crowd to impact Yamamoto following his highly-covered free agent sweepstakes, the $325 million pitcher certainly seemed fueled by the circumstances.

In addition to strong command, Yamamoto enjoyed an uptick in velocity while using six different pitches to strike out seven Yankees. While he came into the game averaging 95.3 mph on his heater, Yamamoto raised that number to 97 and cracked 98 a few times on Friday.

Having twirled a gem, Yamamoto now has a 3.00 ERA with 13 MLB starts under his belt.

“[He] was very much talked about in the news,” Aaron Boone said. “People know about him, and so he’s that guy that people want to do their best against, and he’s come over here and answered what I think a lot of people expected. That’s not always easy early on.”

While Yamamoto dealt, he did not get the win, as neither team scored until Yankee killer Teoscar Hernández doubled off of Ian Hamilton in the 11th inning. The two-bagger gave Los Angeles a two-run lead before Aaron Judge got the Yankees on the board with an RBI single in the bottom of the frame.

Alas, the Yankees failed to score after that, as Giancarlo Stanton struck out looking before Anthony Rizzo popped up.

Earlier in the night, Cody Poteet delivered another strong performance for the Yankees.

The UCLA product blanked the Dodgers, MLB’s second-best offense, for 4.2 innings. He also permitted just two hits while tallying three walks, one strikeout and 84 pitches in his third start of the season.

With this highly-anticipated series off to a dramatic start, the Yankees will turn to Nestor Cortes on Saturday. Rookie right-hander Gavin Stone is slated to start for the Dodgers.


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