YANKEES 9, MARINERS 5
The rumor was the Seattle Mariners dangled ace lefty Cliff Lee in front of the New York Yankees and they originally asked for catcher Jesus Montero, pitcher Zach McAllister and second baseman David Adams but the Mariners balked at the deal because of concerns about an ankle injury Adams suffered.
Once the Texas Rangers offered first baseman Justin Smoak to their package for Lee, the Mariners then called the Yankees back and asked for shortstop Eduardo Nunez along with Montero and McAllister.
The Yankees refused. It was a good thing, too.
Nunez not only recorded his first major-league hit in his first major-league start on Saturday, he also notched his first major-league RBi with that hit, which proved to be the game-winning hit over — ironically — the Mariners.
Nunez came up in the bottom of the seventh inning with Austin Kearns at third and Curtis Granderson at first with one out in a 4-4 game. Nunez, who was recalled on Thursday to replace Lance Berkman on the roster and who was subbing at third base for the injured Alex Rodriguez, stroked a 1-1 fastball from Mariners starter Jason Vargas to the opposite field in right to score Kearns and give the Yankees their first lead since the first inning.
Vargas was removed from the game and Derek Jeter followed with an RBI single of his own and, one out later, Mark Teixeira made it 7-4 with a sacrifice fly.
Four members of the Yankees bullpen were the other heros of the day for picking up for struggling right-hander Javier Vazquez, who gave up four runs on eight hits and a walk in only three-plus innings of work.
Chad Gaudin, Boone Logan, David Robertson and Mariano Rivera teamed up to give up only one run on four hits and no walks in the remaining six innings. Logan (1-0) pitched a perfect seventh inning to earn the victory.
Rivera, who was touched for a scratch run on two hits in the ninth inning picked up his 25th save in 27 chances this season. It was the first four-out save of the season.
Vargas (9-6) took the loss despite holding the Yankees offense to just one hit over the five innings following a horrific four-run first inning. Robinson Cano keyed the frame for the Yankees with a two-run single and Jorge Posada added a two-out, two-run home run.
Vazquez, however, who gave up solo home runs to Ichiro Suzuki and Russell Branyan in the first inning, coughed up the 4-2 lead in the second inning on another solo home by Suzuki and a two-out RBI single by Casey Kotchman that tied the game at 4. The scored remained knotted until Nunez stroked his clutch single in the seventh.
Most of the sellout crowd of 48,158 at Yankee Stadium erupted in cheers as Nunez recovered the ball and kissed it with a big grin on his face at first base.
With Rodriguez headed to the disabled list with the calf issue that slowed him this week, Nunez now becomes a very important player on the roster until the All-Star third baseman returns.
Sometimes the best trades are the ones you decide not to make.
With the victory, the Yankees got back to their high-water mark of 19 games over .500 for the season (76-47) and they will enjoy their evening knowing they can’t be any worse than one game ahead of the second-place Tampa Bay Rays in the American League East. The Rays are playing Oakland on the West Coast. If the Rays lose, as they did on Friday night, they will be two games back.
The Yankees placed Rodriguez on the 15-day disabled list after the game on Saturday. Rodriguez originally injured his left calf on Monday. After sitting out two games, manager Joe Girardi reinsterted him into the lineup Friday night. However, in his first at-bat Rodriguez reaggravated the injury on a ground ball to third base and he had to be removed from the game. The Yankees will rely on Ramiro Pena (who is hitting .197) and Nunez to play third base in place of Rodriguez. The Yankees will recall 23-year-old star rookie right-hander Ivan Nova (12-3, 2.86 ERA) from Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Nova will make his first major-league start on Monday.
The Yankees will end their homestand on Sunday with an eye on winning the three-game series against the Mariners.
The Yankees will have ace left-hander CC Sabathia (16-5, 3.12 ERA) on the mound to do it. Sabathia held the Tigers to two runs over seven innings for his 16th victory. He is 3-0 with a 2.66 ERA in his last three starts. He is 8-4 with a 2.72 ERA in his career against Seattle.
The M’s will counter with left-hander Luke French (2-3, 4.02 ERA), who is coming off his best outing of the season. He held the Orioles hitless for 5 1/3 innings last Tuesday. He is 0-1 with a 2.35 ERA against the Yankees.
Game-time will be 1:05 p.m. EDT and the game will be broadcast by the YES Network.