NEW YORK – Hideki Matsui has the most curious habit at the plate. He never takes a practice swing once he steps into the batter’s box.
He saves all those meaty cuts for when he needs them.
Matsui did all sorts of damage Wednesday night, setting a record with six RBI in a World Series clincher and leading the New York Yankees over the Philadelphia Phillies, 7-3, Wednesday night.
His performance won Game 6 – and clinched the MVP trophy.
Matsui became the first Japanese-born player to win the award that started in 1955. He homered, doubled and singled, highlighting a Series in which he hit .615 with three home runs and eight RBI.
“It’s awesome,” Matsui said through a translator. “Unbelievable. I’m surprised myself.”
Standing on a podium in shallow center field, Matsui waved his new championship hat and shook hands with commissioner Bud Selig. Matsui won three titles in Japan and was eager to celebrate his first in the Bronx.
“It’s certainly different. All I can say right now is I feel great,” he said.
Matsui’s two-run drive off Pedro Martinez in the second inning put the Yankees ahead for good. Nicknamed “Godzilla” back home, Matsui sent a shot to right field that banged off an advertisement on the facing of the second deck — fittingly, it was a sign for the Japanese company Komatsu, which makes mining and construction equipment.
Matsui added a two-run single in the third and lined a two-run double off the right-center field wall in the fifth. The giant videoboard in center field showed fans holding Japanese signs and while the sellout crowd roared, he stood placidly at second base.
Fans cheered when Matsui’s feat, matching Bobby Richardson’s 1960 mark for RBI in any Series game, was posted on the scoreboard. No one, however, had ever delivered such a bounty in the game that wrapped up a championship.
Matsui drew a standing ovation when he came to bat in the seventh, and chants of “MVP! MVP!” bounced around the ballpark.
“He hit everything we threw up there,” Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said.