YANKEES 6, MARINERS 2
Watching Freddy Garcia pitch would be kind of like seeing Rosie O’Donnell compete for the Miss America title. It sure is not be pretty but there is plenty of laughter after it’s over.
Garcia allowed only two runs though nine Mariners reached base in his five innings of work, but the 34-year-old right-hander pitched just well enough to win his 150th major-league game, the most for any Venezuelan-born pitcher, as New York took the three-game series with Seattle on Sunday.
Garcia (5-5) gave up five hits and four walks (three singles and all four walks came after two were out) and he struck out two batters to defeat the team in which he earned 76 of those 150 victories.
Meanwhile, another former Mariner, Raul Ibanez, keyed the offense for the Yankees with three RBIs on his 15th home run of he season in the fifth inning and a two-out, two-run single in the sixth inning.
Japanese right-hander Hisashi Iwamura (2-3) pitched a similar game to Garcia but with much less success for Seattle. Iwamura was tagged for four runs on seven hits and two walks and struck out four over five innings.
The Mariners actually took an early 1-0 lead on Garcia in the first inning when former Yankee prize prospect Jesus Montero stroked a one-single to center to score Dustin Ackley from third base. Montero was thrown out at the plate one out later after Nick Swisher fielded a single to right by Kyle Seager and fired a strike to catcher Chris Stewart to end the inning.
The Yankees, however, answered back with a pair of single runs in the first and second innings.
Mark Teixeira singled to right to score Derek Jeter with one out in the first inning. The Yankees added a run in the next frame thanks to a ball off the bat of Curtis Granderson that rolled through the legs of Ackley at first base for an error that scored Stewart.
The Yankees added a run in the fourth off Iwakuma on a two-out single to left by Jeter that scored Stewart from second base.
The Mariners drew to within a run in the top of the fifth when Michael Saunders launched a two-out double off the wall in center and Montero followed with a bloop single to right that plated Saunders.
Ibanez then answered the Mariners’ tally with his one-out blast to the first row in back of the Yankees’ bullpen in right-center.
The Yankees then extended the lead in the sixth off relievers Josh Kinney and Oliver Perez,
Stewart opened the inning with a walk and Granderson followed it with a lined single to right off Kinney. Two outs later, Perez walked Teixeira to load the bases in order to pitch to Ibanez. But Ibanez made the former Mets left-hander pay for that strategy by lining a single into left-center to score two runs.
The Yankees’ bullpen shut down the Mariners the rest of the way. Boone Logan pitched two perfect innings and David Robertson and Rafael Soriano each tossed a scoreless frame to wrap up of the victory for the Yankees.
The Yankees’ season record stands at 63-44 and they also maintained their 6 1/2-game lead in the American League East over the second-place Baltimore Orioles. The Mariners are now 51-59.
- Ibanez was 2-for-4 with three RBIs in the game and over his last eight games he is 8-for-22 (.364) with three home runs and seven RBIs. Ibanez only has 68 hits this season and yet he has driven in 49 runs in his first season with the Yankees.
- Stewart was 2-for-3 with a double, a walk, a stolen base and scored three runs on Sunday. Though many Yankee fans still miss backup catcher Francisco Cervelli, Stewart has done his part defensively and he is now hitting a respectable .260 on the season with 12 RBIs in limited play behind starter Russell Martin.
- The Yankees’ bullpen again shined brightly in throwing four innings of scoreless baseball to secure the victory. They allowed no hits and the Mariners’ only only base-runner came on a two out walk to Seager in the eighth issued by Robertson.
- Swisher’s throw to nail Montero at the plate was a key defensive play but Swisher was a huge drag on the offense, going 0-for-4 and stranding six base-runners. Swisher has no hits in his last nine at-bats and his season average has dipped to .258.
- Jayson Nix, starting at third base in place of a resting Eric Chavez, was 0-for-3 with a sacrifice bunt. Nix had been 10 for his last 25 at-bats (.400) entering the contest.
- Garcia was very fortunate that his four two-out walks did not come back to haunt him. He was able to retire the side in the second, third and fifth innings without giving up any more runs. This kind of pitching may work against the weak-hitting Mariners but it would not have worked against a good-hitting team like the Red Sox or Rangers.
Ichiro Suzuki tied a Yankee record by extending his hitting streak to 12 games on Sunday, though the hit was a bit tainted. Suzuki hit a fly ball to center to lead off the seventh inning that Saunders lost in the sun and it dropped at his feet in what was scored a double. Suzuki ties Don Slaught for beginning his Yankee career with a 12-game hitting streak. . . . X-rays taken of Andy Pettitte’s left ankle on Sunday indicated that the veteran left-hander is coming along fine in his recovery from the fracture he suffered on June 27. The Yankees were concerned a week ago when Pettitte had swelling from overuse during his workouts but the X-rays show the swelling has subsided. Pettitte, 40, hopes to be able to return to the rotation in September. . . . Manager Joe Girardi said on Sunday that outfielder Brett Gardner may be able to play for the Yankees in a limited role when the roster expands in September. Girardi said Gardner, who has played only nine games this season due to recurring soreness in his right elbow, could be used as a pinch-runner or defensive replacement and still not jeopardize his rehab from surgery on the elbow.
The Yankees are off to Detroit to open a four-game series with the Tigers that begins on Monday.
Right-hander Ivan Nova (10-5, 4.53 ERA) will open the series for the Yankees. Nova has not won a game since July 8 against the Red Sox. In his last outing he was handed an early 5-0 lead but he promptly coughed up nine runs on 10 hits and a walk in five innings in a loss to the Orioles. He is 0-0 with a 7.36 ERA in his career against the Tigers.
The Tigers will call on ace right-hander Justin Verlander (11-7, 2.63 ERA). Verlander failed to go at least six innings for the first time in 63 starts in his last time out. He gave up four runs (three earned) on six hits and four walks in five innings and he took the loss from the Red Sox. He is 4-4 with a 4.17 ERA lifetime against the Yankees.
Game-time will be 7:05 p.m. EDT and the game will be telecast nationally by ESPN and locally by the YES Network.