These first two games in Seattle, the Mariners starters seemed to be the greatest concern for the Yankees. But in two straight Yankees losses, Michael Pineda and Felix Hernandez have not been the problem. The Yankees haven’t been able to beat the Mariners bullpen.
“We had leads in both of the games,” manager Joe Girardi said. “That’s the frustrating part.”
Tonight brought was some redemption for Boone Logan and Luis Ayala, and Hector Noesi, Dave Robertson and Joba Chamberlain gave the Yankees all they could ask for, but a couple of bloop hits off Mariano Rivera decided the game in the 12th inning. The Mariners hit the ball hard once that inning, but it was enough to setup Adam Kennedy’s looping game-winner into no-man’s land.
“You can’t describe that,” Rivera said. “To me it’s a hit, period. We lost the game. Made good pitches and the ball finds places. You can’t do nothing against that. I wish we would still be playing, but it’s done.”
Good as the Seattle bullpen has been, it’s certainly hurt the Yankees that they haven’t been able to get any significant distance out of their starters. Back-to-back nights the Yankees have taken a lead against terrific Mariners starters, only to see their own starters bow out after a total of 8.2 innings. Last night it was A.J. Burnett lasting only five innings, failing to create his own bridge to the the Robertson-Chamberlain-Rivera trio. Tonight it was Ivan Nova, leaving the Yankees bullpen to pitch eight innings before the Mariners finally got their big, little hit.
“I feel like I was the one to lose the game,” Nova said. “Because I should have stayed more in the game. I just threw three innings and two thirds. It looked like a long game for me.”
Here’s Girardi postgame. He was clearly frustrated (obviously).
• If you’re curious, Girardi really had little choice but to give Rivera the ball in that 12th inning. It was either that or stick with Ayala for a second straight night of multiple innings. The only pitchers available were Rivera and Lance Pendleton, and Girardi couldn’t put himself in a situation where Rivera was the only pitcher left. The last guy standing has to be a long man who can pitch deep into the night if necessary.
• The only well-hit ball in that final inning was Jack Cust’s double, but Rivera said he was happy with the pitch. He said it was the right pitch, Cust just hit it well down the line.
• Nova’s problem was all about command, especially with his offspeed stuff. Girardi said it wasn’t there from the very beginning, but Nova managed to sneak through those first three innings. When Girardi saw it finally unraveling in the fourth, he went to Noesi who once again gave the Yankees all they could have asked for.
• Derek Jeter set the Yankees franchise record for stolen bases with his fourth steal of the season. It was the 327th of his career, moving him ahead of Rickey Henderson on the Yankees’ list.
• The offensive bright spot for the Yankees had to be Robinson Cano, who actually had some good at-bats tonight and showed a little bit of patience. He had three hits and said his second-inning home run against Hernandez might have been his best swing and best at-bat of the year. “I laid of some pitches that I’ve been swinging at all year,” he said.
• Speaking of Mark Teixeira, he went deep again tonight. He has eight home runs in his past 17 games at Safeco Field and now has 14 career homers at the Seattle ballpark. Among opposing players, only Eric Chavez has more (15).
• Teixeira has homered in three straight games.
• The Yankees are 3-4 in extra-inning games this season.
• The Yankees were 1-for-9 with runners in scoring position.
• Four fans ran onto the field tonight, including one of them who was completely naked and ran through the infield before being tackled near the shortstop position. Joba Chamberlain was on the mound at the time and said there were fans waving the guy’s clothes in the stands. Girardi said he’d seen a streaker only once before, during a game in Chicago.
Associated Press photos