From MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch:
SEATTLE — The losses that come with Mariano Rivera walking off the mound often go down this way, with a ball hit just well enough that it finds a safe patch of outfield grass to land on.
Adam Kennedy was the one providing the ending on Saturday, knocking in pinch-runner Luis Rodriguez with the winning run in the 12th inning to lift the Mariners to a 5-4 victory over the Yankees at Safeco Field.
“It was the game,” Rivera said. “I made good pitches and the ball found places. You can’t do [anything]. I wish we’d still be playing, but it’s done.”
The loss resides next to Rivera’s name in the box score, but the Yankees knew better.
After wrestling a lead away from Felix Hernandez in the seventh inning, four Seattle relievers silenced their bats until the end of a four-hour, 18-minute grind that ended well after most New Yorkers had retired to bed.
“They’ve been throwing a lot of strikes,” said Yankees second baseman Robinson Cano. “They’ve been pitching really well. You can see their ERAs. They’re really good and you’ve got to give them some credit.”
In the decisive 12th, Justin Smoak got aboard with a one-out single before leaving for the pinch-runner, and Jack Cust followed with a well-hit double into the left-field corner.
“You can’t defend that. There’s no excuses,” Rivera said.
An intentional walk loaded the bases for Kennedy, who won it with a shallow looper to center field.
“I’m trying to survive,” Kennedy said. “You know what’s coming. That’s my second hit off him ever and the other one was just the same. It’s not easy.”
David Pauley was the last of Seattle’s relievers on Saturday, hurling two scoreless innings for the win. The Yankees have gone quietly over nine frames against the Mariners’ bullpen in the series.
“It’s been two nights in a row we haven’t scored on them,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. “I thought we had a couple of chances, we hit some balls hard. We just didn’t score.”
Hernandez struggled early, serving up a solo homer to Cano in the second inning and a two-run shot to Mark Teixeira in the third.
“They were waiting a little bit, but after the third they started hacking,” Hernandez said. “I made two mistakes with fastballs to Cano. That was right in the middle. And Teixeira, too. I fell behind and you pay.”
He settled in, but the Yankees were able to get him to cough up a one-run lead in the seventh.
With Derek Jeter aboard, Granderson belted a drive to right field that Ichiro Suzuki pursued oddly, leaping on the warning track and missing the ball entirely. Granderson charged to third base as Jeter scored the tying run easily.
It was an interesting night for Jeter, who had two hits and is now 21 away from becoming the first player in a Yankees uniform to reach the 3,000-hit plateau.
Jeter also used the evening to reach another statistical milestone, logging his 327th career stolen base in the third inning, surpassing Rickey Henderson for the most in franchise history.
That was all book-keeping in the end. As he watched from the clubhouse, Ivan Nova took responsibility.
Down, 3-1, after three innings, the Mariners took the lead with three runs in the fourth, knocking Nova out.
“I feel bad about that,” Nova said. “I had the lead twice in the game and I can’t hold on. I don’t feel happy with that.”
Franklin Gutierrez started the fourth with a bad-hop single that ate up Jeter, and Kennedy doubled to set up Miguel Olivo’s game-tying, two-run double.
Nova also uncorked a wild pitch and allowed the go-ahead hit, a Brendan Ryan RBI single, before leaving.
“I don’t have really good command today, but I’ve got to find another way to fight and stay in the game,” Nova said. “I’ll try to do better next time.”
Girardi said that he would have liked to see Nova challenge hitters more. The righty allowed five hits in 3 2/3 innings, walking three and fanning one.
“You have to be able to throw strikes,” Girardi said. “This is a ballpark where there aren’t a lot of home runs hit. I think you can be more aggressive in this ballpark and attack the strike zone. That’s what he has to do.”
You couldn’t pin it on the Yankees’ bullpen. Hector Noesi performed admirably in relief, holding the Mariners scoreless over 2 1/3 innings of two-hit ball.
Dave Robertson struck out the side in the seventh. Joba Chamberlain hurled two scoreless innings and Boone Logan faced the minimum in the 10th before Luis Ayala set the Mariners down in the 11th.
Ultimately, even as Kennedy’s humpback off Rivera rolled past Granderson and was abandoned in center field, the Yankees had to look back at the early innings as the turning point.
“It’s frustrating,” Girardi said. “We had leads in both of the games and weren’t able to hold them. We gave free baserunners and it hurt us.”
|Rodriguez, Al, 3B||6||0||1||0||0||1||5||.284|
|a-Jones, An, PH-DH||2||0||0||0||0||1||0||.231|
|Rivera, Ma(L, 1-1)||0.1||3||1||1||1||0||0||2.11|
From MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch:
SEATTLE — The Yankees’ bullpen was lauded as an unquestioned strength heading into the season, but it was their weak spot on Friday in the opener of a nine-game road trip.
Clinging to a one-run lead heading to the sixth inning, two Yankees relievers frittered it away. A pair of soft run-scoring groundouts eased them along to a 4-3 loss to the Mariners at Safeco Field.
“We had a chance to win tonight and that’s disappointing,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. “Whether it’s the first game or the ninth game of the road trip, that’s disappointing.”
The Yankees’ frustration was evident in the face of Eduardo Nunez, who pinch-ran in the eighth inning and pulled off a daring steal of second base, only to be picked off representing the tying run.
“I feel bad. It’s a big play in the inning,” said Nunez, who was nabbed by Jamey Wright. “The tying run is me. To get picked off, I feel so bad. It happens.”
Nick Swisher didn’t have a much better night. Swisher belted a deep drive to center field in the fourth inning that seemed like a sure bet to snap his prolonged offensive funk.
He never saw Franklin Gutierrez leap against the outfield wall and bring the ball back for an out. The look of amazement on the face of Mariners shortstop Brendan Ryan told Swisher everything he needed to know.
“No chance. I hit that ball really well,” Swisher said. “What are you going to do? He looked like Michael Jordan out there on that play.”
That helplessness seeped into the bullpen as well. A.J. Burnett needed 97 pitches to get through five innings, so Girardi wanted Boone Logan to get an out before Luis Ayala got the ball to the later innings.
Burnett said he still had a little something left in the tank, but he couldn’t argue with the call.
“Those guys in the bullpen are there for a reason,” Burnett said. “A lot of walks [five] and I’m sure the 97 pitches had a lot to do with it.”
Logan once again couldn’t fulfill his assignment, as Adam Kennedy pounced on a hanging slider, the 11th hit that Logan has surrendered to a lefty in 32 at-bats.
Ayala allowed a single to Miguel Olivo and then issued a four-pitch walk to Carlos Peguero, setting up RBI at-bats for Ryan and Ichiro Suzuki.
Ryan bounced a ball to shortstop that was too slowly hit to turn a double play, tying the score, and Ichiro followed with a RBI grounder to shortstop that gave Seattle its first lead of the evening.
“You just find a way to push them across,” Seattle manager Eric Wedge said. “Our guys did a good job keeping them in the middle of the field. That’s the separator right there. If you’re hitting those balls to the corners, you’re not going to score those runs.”
The silent rally made a winner out of David Pauley, who hurled two scoreless innings after promising starter Michael Pineda was hit for three runs in five frames.
Seattle had scored twice off Burnett, who knew that he’d sealed his own fate by needing to wriggle free of self-created jams too often.
“I was 3-1, 3-2 on a lot of hitters,” Burnett said. “At the same time, I was able to get out of it here and there. It definitely was the deciding factor in coming out, walks and a high pitch count.”
It might have been a different decision, Girardi allowed, if both of the Mariners’ runs off Burnett hadn’t come in the fifth on RBI groundouts by Luis Rodriguez and Justin Smoak.
As Girardi knows all too well, the crop of relievers he has on his lineup card isn’t exactly what he thought would be there this spring, but they must make do with few reinforcements available.
“Some guys are going to be expected to do a little bit more, that’s the bottom line,” Girardi said.
The Yankees saw flashes of the 22-year-old Pineda’s promise but were able to run up the right-hander’s pitch count and get him out after five innings.
“He had trouble with the strike zone,” Girardi said. “I thought our guys were patient off him and did a good job off him. He hasn’t given up a lot of runs.”
Mark Teixeira accounted for New York’s first run in the first, belting his 14th homer.
In the fifth, Pineda uncorked a nasty breaking ball that Alex Rodriguez waved at, but it skipped away for a wild pitch that scored Curtis Granderson standing up.
Booed as usual during his return visits to Seattle, Rodriguez then dropped an RBI single in front of a sliding Gutierrez, giving the Yankees a 3-0 lead.
“Growing up in the Dominican, I think he heard all about the Yankees and saw all those highlights, so he was pretty excited,” catcher Olivo said of Pineda. “I think he was overthrowing the fastball. But for five innings, they still only had three hits and that’s amazing.”
Pineda used 96 pitches in the effort, his 10th big league outing, walking five and striking out five.
“We heard a lot about him coming in,” Swisher said. “I thought we did a great job getting his pitch count up. We just kind of let it slip away from us. It’s a tough loss to take.”
|Rodriguez, Al, 3B||3||0||1||1||1||1||2||.288|
|1-Nunez, E, PR-DH||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.250|
|Ayala(BS, 1)(L, 1-1)||2.0||1||1||1||1||2||0||1.93|
Friday ~ 5/27/11 ~ 10:10 PM EST
A.J. Burnett (5-3, 4.02) vs. Michael Pineda (6-2, 2.16)
Burnett settled down Saturday after a 29-pitch, two-run first inning against the Mets to come out with the win, his third quality start in his last four outings. He is 2-2 with a 3.83 ERA in six career starts against the Mariners.
The big 22-year-old ranks first among AL rookies in wins (6), strikeouts (61) and opponents avg. (.194). He’s riding a 14-inning scoreless streak, during which he’s allowed five hits and one walk with 16 strikeouts.
Saturday ~ 5/28/11 ~ 10:10 PM EST
Ivan Nova (4-3, 4.29) vs. Felix Hernandez (5-4, 3.01)
Nova was unfazed by the stage of the Subway Series, giving up just three runs in 6 2/3 innings Sunday against the Mets. Late run support gave him a no-decision. He has never faced Seattle.
Hernandez tied his career-high with 13 strikeouts in an eight-inning gem against the Padres Sunday, allowing six hits in a 6-1 win. He’s 5-3 with a 2.73 ERA in eight career starts against the Yankees.
Sunday ~ 5/29/11 ~ 4:10 PM EST
C.C. Sabathia (5-3, 3.17) vs. TBA
Sabathia pitched his first complete game of the year on Tuesday, giving up four runs in a win against the Blue Jays. He yielded eight hits, but pounded the strike zone, issuing one walk and using 103 pitches (77 strikes) to finish the game.
Pitcher Probables from MLB.com’s Gameday Preview