Game Three: Yanks 5 Seattle 2
SEATTLE — The Yankees’ climb to the top of their division has been marked by different names and faces rising to the occasion, the team tackling a persistent rash of injuries. In that department, Jayson Nix became just the latest contributor.
Less than 24 hours after Alex Rodriguez was lost to a broken left hand, Nix cleared the bases with a pinch-hit three-run double in the eighth inning off Shawn Kelley. The Yankees salvaged the final game of a difficult West Coast road trip with a 5-2 victory over the Mariners on Wednesday at Safeco Field.
“Really, all I wanted to do was hit a sacrifice fly,” Nix said. “I really just wanted to get one run in. We were down by one run. Maybe that helped, because I wasn’t trying to do too much. I was able to put the barrel on the ball.”
Nix’s late delivery from New York’s bench supplemented Derek Jeter’s first-inning homer as the Yankees headed home with two victories on their Seattle stay, coming after the club lost four straight to the Athletics in Oakland.
“After losing five games by a total of six runs, to be able to win a series was important going into an off-day,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. “2-5 is not what we want, but we won the second series of the road trip, and it will be a happier plane flight.”
David Phelps earned the victory with 1 1/3 innings of scoreless, hitless relief after starter Ivan Nova survived five-plus wild innings, walking a career-high six batters. Rafael Soriano silenced his former team in the ninth, recording his 26th save in 28 chances.
The Yankees have had plenty to overcome this year, from losing Mariano Rivera and Brett Gardner for the season, to lesser injuries to Joba Chamberlain, CC Sabathia, Andy Pettitte and now A-Rod. Thus far, they’ve not only survived, but flourished.
“You can’t play this game every day and think about what happened the previous day,” Jeter said. “We want to win every time we take the field, so it’s good for us to win this game here.”
New York trailed by a run going to the eighth, when Jeter was hit on the left thigh by Josh Kinney to start the inning.
Robinson Cano and Mark Teixeira greeted Lucas Luetge with singles, and after Curtis Granderson popped out in foul territory, Nix was summoned from the bench as the Mariners went to Kelley, a right-hander. Girardi said he has loved the presence of Nix, a utility man.
“This is a professional guy who really works hard at playing the four positions that we ask him to play,” Girardi said. “He’s always prepared. I looked at him and I said, ‘Are you prepared to hit?’ And he said, ‘Yes, I am.’”
Nix, who figures to see an increase in playing time following Rodriguez’s injury, laced a loud double up the left-center-field gap as Jeter, Cano and Teixeira were all waved home. Russell Martin added a run-scoring single later in the frame off Kelley.
“I try to think along with the game and think along with situations about what possibly could happen, so I’m never surprised,” Nix said. “I never assume anything. Then throughout the game, I have my routine throughout the innings of what I do to make sure I’m loose and ready.”
Jeter batted in the second spot in the order, a move that Girardi suggests may continue with Ichiro Suzuki elevated to leadoff. Jeter touched up Seattle starter Hisashi Iwakuma for his eighth homer, and Girardi said he liked the early returns on the Ichiro-Jeter tandem.
“It was good today,” Girardi said. “I’m not sure what we’ll do against the lefty [Jon Lester] on Saturday, but I do like it.”
Iwakuma, a pitcher the Yankees had never seen, settled in from there and limited New York to six hits over five innings. The right-hander walked three and struck out three.
Nova allowed his only two runs in the first inning. After allowing singles to Michael Saunders and Jesus Montero, Nova lost command of the strike zone and walked both John Jaso and Kyle Seager, forcing home a run.
Mike Carp reached on a run-scoring fielder’s choice to bring home the second run against Nova, who struck out five, marking his third consecutive start without a victory. Clay Rapada induced a double-play grounder in the sixth to help Nova escape further damage.
“I didn’t really have my fastball command today,” Nova said. “I fell behind the hitters the whole game. Six walks; it wasn’t a good day for me. We got the win, and I’m happy for that.”…..Read More
Box Score and Highlights:
Game Two: Seattle 4 Yanks 2
SEATTLE — The Yankees couldn’t come through with the hit they needed to topple Felix Hernandez on Tuesday, and they suffered an even bigger blow as Alex Rodriguez fractured his left hand being hit by a pitch.
The three-time American League MVP was drilled by an errant 88-mph Hernandez offering in the eighth inning and could watch the next six to eight weeks from the disabled list. The Yankees went on to drop a 4-2 decision to the Mariners at Safeco Field.
“It’s very unfortunate. It’s a big loss,” Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira said. “Alex had been really swinging the bat well lately. You hoped he was going to go on one of those tears where he was going to carry you for a couple weeks, but now we’re going to have to find someone else to do that.”
Rodriguez suffered a non-displaced fracture of his fifth metacarpal and will be placed on the disabled list before Wednesday’s series finale with Seattle. He will return to New York with the club and is scheduled to be examined by team physician Dr. Christopher Ahmad on Thursday.
“He’s upset. He wants to be out there,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. “But we’re not going to have him, and we’re going to have to find a way.”
The injury was arguably the biggest blow of an underwhelming West Coast trip, beginning with a four-game sweep by the A’s in Oakland. New York’s arrival in Seattle brought the addition of outfielder Ichiro Suzuki, who doubled and was hit by a pitch in three at-bats on Tuesday, but the subtraction of Rodriguez impacts the Yankees more.
“It’s huge,” said Eric Chavez, who could see increased playing time at third base in the wake of Rodriguez’s injury. “We’ve had our share of injuries. Al is so important to our team. This is definitely going to hurt.”
Freddy Garcia permitted three runs in a respectable 7 1/3 outing, settling in to retire 15 straight batters until being lifted with one out in the eighth inning.
“I feel really good today. I got everything going right now,” Garcia said. “I started to always make my pitch, and they gave me a favor; they start swinging the bats real aggressive. For me, when that happens, it’s good because I can locate all my pitches and get the job done more easy.”
Michael Saunders connected for a solo home run in the first inning, his 10th of the season, and Seattle scored twice in the third inning on Jesus Montero’s run-scoring single and a John Jaso sacrifice fly.
Garcia settled in from there, wrapping up a five-hit, eight-strikeout performance with no walks. Four other Yankees hurlers appeared as the eighth inning turned ugly, with Kyle Seager bringing home an insurance run for Seattle with a weak bases-loaded roller to third base facing Boone Logan.
“Saunders had hit [Garcia] pretty hard, so I figured with the lefties coming up I would just bring in my lefty and then go from there,” said Girardi, who first called upon Clay Rapada. “We got in trouble because we walked people, and then you get a check swing for a hit. What are you going to do?”
Hernandez always seems to be able to offer a good challenge, and that again proved to be true.
Curtis Granderson struck the first blow against King Felix, slugging a solo home run in the first inning, Granderson’s team-leading 27th of the season. But the Yankees were turned aside from there, as Hernandez showed a knack for wriggling out of damaging situations.
Hernandez induced a pair of inning-ending double plays and pitched out of a bases-loaded, one-out jam in the fourth inning by striking out Raul Ibanez and getting Chavez to fly out to center field. Hernandez also survived Ichiro’s leadoff double in the fifth, stranding his former teammate at third base.
Teixeira lined out hard to center field for an eighth-inning sacrifice fly, driving in Derek Jeter as scoring concluded against Hernandez. He permitted two runs and four hits in 7 1/3 innings, walking three and striking out four with a wild pitch.
“My command was off the whole game,” Hernandez said. “I don’t know what was going on, I couldn’t even throw a strike. I was up a little bit. But you know, when I get in trouble, I just make good pitches.”
In an odd quirk, all three of the hitters Hernandez plunked in his wild outing — Ichiro, Jeter and Rodriguez — own more than 2,500 hits in the Majors. The Yankees were adamant that they did not believe any of the drillings were intentional. Ichiro took a pitch off his right foot, Jeter was hit in the left shoulder and Rodriguez couldn’t get away from a changeup.
“He hit Alex with a changeup,” Girardi said. “In that situation I don’t think he’s trying to hit anyone on purpose. You wouldn’t want to put the tying run on base anyway. It happens, it’s part of the game, and it’s unfortunate that Alex hurt his hand.”
They would agree, however, that the lasting effects could be costly for a Yankees club that — as recently as 24 hours prior — had thought it had imported an important complementary piece for its October run. Suddenly, the Yankees have to navigate yet another challenge in getting through their summer…….Read More
Box Score and Highlights:
Game One: Yanks 4 Mariners 1
SEATTLE — Ichiro Suzuki proceeded almost cautiously toward home plate for what would be his first big league at-bat wearing anything but a Mariners uniform, uncertain what he should be expecting.
The fans rose at Safeco Field to celebrate Ichiro, wishing him well in his new home, and there was something of an exhale. Ichiro was freed to do what he does best, lacing a single up the middle in the Yankees’ 4-1 victory over the Mariners.
“I was kind of worried, getting up on that first at-bat,” Ichiro said. “But with the standing ovation, I was really relieved. It was a special day today.”
Ichiro played just a supporting role for his new club on Monday, singling in four at-bats and stealing a base. Hiroki Kuroda was the star of the game, turning in seven innings of strong one-run ball to halt New York’s four-game losing skid.
“Going through that losing streak, we really needed this win,” Kuroda said. “With the addition of Ichiro, we got a big win today and it was really good for me and good for the team.”
Indeed, on the day that Ichiro’s iconic run in Seattle came to a close with the 10-time All-Star trying on a road gray Yankees uniform, the 38-year-old’s swap of clubhouses was clearly the story of the day.
“Ichiro is a rock star,” said Alex Rodriguez, who slugged a solo homer in the victory. “He loves the bright lights. We have plenty of those in New York. I think he’s going to love New York and New Yorkers are going to love him.”
And so did Seattle. As the 29,911 on hand at Safeco Field saluted Ichiro — some of whom, no doubt, were surprised to learn the star had been dealt to New York for pitchers D.J. Mitchell and Danny Farquhar earlier in the day — Ichiro doffed his batting helmet and bowed before entering the batter’s box.
“It was definitely a tough, tough day for me,” Ichiro said. “Now I can just focus on baseball. If you had said, ‘Hey, I’ve got to play soccer tomorrow,’ that might be tough. But it’s baseball and I’m going to just focus on playing the game.”
Ichiro took a strike and then singled off Mariners starter Kevin Millwood, quickly making use of the green light Yankees manager Joe Girardi promised to steal second base. Two groundouts short-circuited the rally, but Girardi said he can already see how Ichiro will make an impact.
“It just changes our lineup when you have a guy who can do the things that he can do,” Girardi said.
Girardi said he spoke to Ichiro before filling out the lineup card, explaining that he sees the No. 8 slot as Ichiro’s spot in the order.
“He was great. He didn’t bat an eye,” Girardi said. “He said, ‘I’m ready to go.’ And he seemed really excited. We’re really pleased to have him. This is a guy that we feel can do a lot of things.”
The Yankees scored three runs in seven innings off Millwood, doing all of their damage in the fourth as Mark Teixeira, Raul Ibanez and Andruw Jones each stroked run-scoring hits in the frame.
Millwood (3-8) scattered nine hits, walking two and striking out five. He was outpitched by Kuroda, who won his second consecutive start and remains undefeated in six starts since June 25.
“He’s been really, really good,” Girardi said. “I thought in the month of April he was putting too much pressure on himself, trying to validate coming over here. He’s seemed to settle down and he’s been really, really good for us.”
The Mariners managed just three hits off Kuroda and scored their only run in the third. Dustin Ackley walked, stole second and scored on John Jaso’s single, as Ichiro’s throw skipped up the first-base line….Read More
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