Yoshinobu Yamamoto Dodgers edge Yankees in 11 innings

As the baseball world revolved around him on Friday, Yoshinobu Yamamoto didn’t seem to mind.

Absent in the Dodgers clubhouse before the game, Yamamoto sat alone at his locker, then propped his feet up on a black leather couch, quietly poring over scouting reports as reporters swarmed the empty room.

He took the field hours later at Yankee Stadium for the opener of this weekend’s highly anticipated Dodgers-Yankees series, drawing a chorus of boos from a fan base hoping to see him in pinstripes.

And of course the Dodgers didn’t have a scoreless seven inning, seven strikeout start 2-1 winYamamoto’s gem in the 11th inning set up Dioscar Hernandez for a game-deciding two-run double.

“His best outing as a Dodger,” manager Dave Roberts said.

More than that, it was Yamamoto’s first time seeing a superstar.

“I enjoyed the atmosphere,” Yamamoto said through his translator. “It was a great ground. I enjoyed the whole game.

In the build-up to this series in the Bronx — a showdown between two of MLB’s most historic franchises, but two first-place teams that could meet in the World Series — most of the attention has surrounded former valuable players and perennials alike. -Stars in two rows.

Shohei Ohtani, Mookie Betts and Freddie Freeman for the Dodgers. Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton and Juan Soto for New York (although Soto missed Friday’s game with a forearm injury that is questionable to play this weekend).

“I’m excited to see the stars come out,” Roberts said before the game. “We have some of the best players on the planet playing here.”

It’s unclear exactly where Yamamoto fits into that celebrity constellation.

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The 25-year-old Japanese star received the largest contract in MLB history for a pitcher outside of Ohtani this offseason, signing with the Dodgers — despite heavy interest from other big-market clubs, chief among them the Yankees — for the 12th. annual, $325 million contract.

He came to MLB as one of the most decorated pitchers in Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball history, winning the league’s Cy Young Award three times.

“The Yankees are a great team and I appreciate the interest they had in me during the negotiations,” Yamamoto said. “But when I face them, it’s a normal game.”

Despite it all, Yamamoto entered his freshman season Friday with some signature moments.

His earned-run average was 3.32, solid but outside the top 35 in the majors. He has yet to face a crime at any of New York’s strongest.

“It will be a good test for him,” Roberts said before the game. “But I know, of course, the moment, the stage won’t be big.”

Yoshinobu Yamamoto pitches to New York Yankees star Aaron Judge during the first inning Friday at Yankee Stadium.

Yoshinobu Yamamoto pitches to New York Yankees star Aaron Judge during the first inning Friday at Yankee Stadium.

(Frank Franklin II / Associated Press)

Such intuition is spot-on.

Three hours before first pitch, Yamamoto remained as the rest of his teammates filed out of a clubhouse packed with more than two dozen reporters. Hat backwards. Headphones on. He seems to be in his own world, not drawing attention to what many have said is the greatest streak of the season so far.

“He’s pitched in a lot of big games in his career,” Roberts said of Yamamoto’s career in Japan and last year’s World Baseball Classic championship with Japan. “This will be another experience for him.”

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Once he took the mound, however, Yamamoto didn’t pitch like it was just another game.

From the jump, the 5-foot-11 right-hander found increased velocity in his fastball, throwing 29 pitches at 97 mph or faster (and another six at 96.9). He eclipsed that mark only three times all season.

“I think my mechanics worked really well today,” Yamamoto said.

“Anytime you have more velo, it helps,” catcher Will Smith added.

Dodgers teammates Jason Heyward, Dioscar Hernandez and Andy Page celebrate.

Dodgers teammates (from left) Jason Heyward, Theoscar Hernandez and Andy Page celebrate after a 2-1 win over the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium on Friday.

(Frank Franklin II / Associated Press)

Yamamoto’s secondary stuff also looked sharper than usual, as he used a splitter and slider to complete his four strikeouts.

“The things he did in Japan,” Hernandez said, “he showed today.”

Asked later how Friday would compare to the postseason situation, Yamamoto smiled sheepishly.

“I don’t think about October,” he said. “Just trying to execute my pitches as usual.”

Did Roberts learn anything about the pitcher he was tasked with anchoring the rotation alongside fellow offseason addition Tyler Glasnow?

“No,” said Roberts. “I know he won’t run away from this moment.”

The Yankees — who entered the night riding an eight-game winning streak and the best record in the majors — pressed Yamamoto early. The judge doubled down at first. Two runners reached second on a Kike Hernandez error and a Trent Grisham single.

But after escaping both of those jams — on a pair of wipeout sliders for inning-ending strikeouts — Yamamoto cruised the other way.

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He did not give up another victory. He retired 15 of the last 17 batters he faced. In the final two innings of a 106-pitch outing, he worked his only two walks, fanning Stanton with a fastball in the sixth and inducing a double-play grounder on the final pitch by DJ LeMahieu.

As he finally left the rubber, Yamamoto clenched his fists and let out a celebratory scream.

“I think there’s a little bit, and it’s still Yankee Stadium,” Roberts said, adding that the hopeless mechanics alone led to Yamamoto’s acceleration. “I think Velo had something to do with it.”

The game remained scoreless after Yamamoto left the mound.

The Yankees were stranded in the eighth with the bases loaded. Both teams failed to score an automatic extra-inning base runner in the 10th. Teoscar Hernandez found the gap in left-center field in the 11th, scoring Ohtani (who went 0-for-5) from second base and Freeman (0-for-2 with two walks) at first, neither team able to get a runner on. across the board.

“It’s the old adage that good pitching beats good hitting,” Roberts said. “You can run out as many good hitters as you can find.”

The Yankees got one run back in the bottom of the 11th when Judge (two for three with two walks) lined an RBI single from Yohan Ramirez — a typically low-leverage reliever asking the Dodgers’ depleted bullpen to save the game. .

However, the Yankees didn’t collect anything else.

By then, Yamamoto had kept them quiet for a long time. In a series about star power, the Japanese pitcher made sure his name was at the top of the list.

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