YANKEES 4, MARINERS 3
As the second half of the season started the Yankees used the same formula on Friday that carried them through the first half of the season: Solid starting pitching, a timely home run and a shutdown bullpen. It is a formula that has put them in first place and may keep them there for some time.
Alex Rodriguez blasted a solo home run with one out in the seventh inning to break a 3-3 tie while Masahiro Tanaka pitched seven strong innings to lead New York over Seattle in front of a paid crowd of 47,086 at Yankee Stadium.
Rodriguez’s 19th home run and 52nd RBI of the season came on a 1-0 pitch from left-hander Joe Beimel (0-1), who was tagged with the loss in relief of left-hander Mike Montgomery.
Tanaka, meanwhile, held down all the Mariners except for Austin Jackson and Kyle Seager. The pair combined to go 4-for-6 off Tanaka, while the rest of the team was 1-for-19.
After the Yankees had taken an early 1-0 lead off Montgomery in the second inning on a one-out solo home run by Chris Young, Seager brought the Mariners back into a tie with a solo home run with one out in the third inning.
When the Yankees claimed a 2-1 lead in the fourth on a leadoff double by Young and an RBI single by Chase Headley, Seager again responded with two outs in the fifth with a two-run shot to nearly the same spot in right-center he hit his first home run to give Seattle a 3-2 lead.
The two home runs gives Seager 14 on the season and he is 6-for-9 (.667) with a double, two triples, three homers and six RBIs in his past two games at Yankee Stadium.
The Yankees, however, managed to tie the game in the bottom of the fifth after Rodriguez led off with a lined single to right, Mark Teixeira drew a walk and Brian McCann laced a single to right to score Rodriguez for his 56th RBI of the season.
Tanaka (6-3) was charged with three runs on five hits and two walks with seven strikeouts in seven innings to notch his second straight victory in his past two starts.
Montgomery yielded three runs on seven hits and three walks with nine strikeouts in six innings.
After Rodriguez’s home run in the seventh, manager Joe Girardi called upon the “Twin Towers,” right-hander Dellin Betances and left-hander Andrew Miller, to close out the game.
Betances pitched a 1-2-3 eighth and struck out two and Miller pitched around a two-out pinch-hit single by Mark Trumbo to earn his 19th save in 19 chances this season.
With the victory the Yankees are now 49-40 on the season and they have opened up a 4 1/2-game lead over the second-place Tampa Bay Rays and Toronto Blue Jays in the American League East. The Mariners fell to 41-49.
- Perhaps it was a good thing that Rodriguez was not selected for the All-Star team because the four days rest gave the 39-year-old designated hitter some renewed vigor in this game to go 2-for-4 with a single, a homer, two runs scored and an RBI. Rodriguez is looking to build upon what was a very strong first half and he is now batting .281 on the season.
- Tanaka is now 3-0 in his three career starts against the Mariners with 27 strikeouts. In his past three starts, Tanaka is 2-0 with a 3.05 ERA. The Yankees are counting on a healthy Tanaka to lead the starting staff throughout the second half. It appears he is pitching like the ace that he has been.
- Young, 31, continued to punish left-handed pitching as he has all season. He was 2-for-3 with a double, a homer, two runs scored and an RBI off Montgomery. This season Young is 29-for-82 (.354), which leads all of baseball, with five home runs and 17 RBIs. Injuries to Jacoby Ellsbury and Carlos Beltran have forced Young to play against some right-handers and he is only hitting .180 against them.
Other than the two fat two-seam fastballs that Tanaka got up in the strike zone against Seager, he was sensational. The Yankees also continue to generate home runs at home and the bullpen with Betances and Miller is just a juggernaut. There is nothing to criticize with this effort.
The Yankees on Friday activated backup infielder Brendan Ryan from the 15-day disabled list and optioned infielder Gregorio Petit to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Ryan, 33, has been plagued by injuries since before spring training started and he has only played in six games this season. He was placed on the disabled list on June 22 with an upper-back strain he sustained trying to snag a ball in pregame drills. Petit, 30, hit .167 in 27 games with the Yankees.
The Yankees will continue their weekend home series the Mariners on Saturday.
Right-hander Michael Pineda (9-5, 3.64 ERA) will start for the Yankees. Pineda, 26, defeated the Boston Red Sox by yielding just one run on seven hits and struck out six batters in 6 2/3 innings last Friday. He has a 1.25 ERA in his past three starts despite a 1-1 record.
Right-hander Hisashi Iwakuma (1-1, 5.22 ERA) will pitch for the Mariners. Iwakuma, 34, held the Los Angeles Angels scoreless on just three hits and two walks in eight innings in his first victory of the season last Saturday.
Game-time will be 1:05 p.m. EDT and the game will be broadcast nationally by the MLB Network and locally by the YES Network.