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.
YANKEES 5, MARINERS 3 (11 INNINGS)
When the Yankees obtained Garrett Jones from the Miami Marlins this winter they envisioned his left-handed power and versatility as an outfielder and first baseman would be perfect fit. But up until Tuesday, Jones has struggled to bat .232 with one home run and four RBIs.
With one swing that all changed.
Jones connected on a 2-0 pitch with two on and two out in the 11th inning for a three-run homer off left-hander Joe Beimel that allowed New York to come from behind to defeat Seattle at Safeco Field.
The Yankees were granted the opportunity to win their first extra-inning game of the season in four tries after Stephen Drew delivered a two-out RBI double off closer Fernando Rodney in the bottom of the ninth inning that tied the game at 2-2.
That set the stage for 11th, which hit a speed bump when Brian McCann had erased a leadoff single by Didi Gregorius by hitting into a double play. However, Drew singled off right-hander Tom Wilhelmsen (0-2) and Brett Gardner followed with a single of his own.
Jones, who entered the game as a pinch-hitter in the seventh and struck out, then faced Beimel. His blast off Beimel landed well into the bleachers in right-center to reclaim a lead the Yankees had lost in the third inning.
Left-hander Justin Wilson (2-0) pitched a scoreless 10th, making a spectacular diving grab of a popped up bunt by Rickie Weeks and turning it into a double play, to earn the victory.
Andrew Miller was touched for a run in the 11th on an RBI single by former Yankee Robinson Cano. But Miller struck out the major-league leader in home runs, Nelson Cruz, representing the potential winning run to earn his 16th save in 16 tries this season.
The Yankees grabbed a 1-0 lead in the top of the third inning after Gardner drew a one-out walk on a disputed checked swing and advanced to second on a wild pitch by left-hander Mike Montgomery, who was called up from Triple-A Tacoma and was making his first major-league start.
One out later, Alex Rodriguez also drew a walk on a disputed checked swing. Mariners catcher Mike Zunino and manager Lloyd McClendon were ejected from the game by first-base umpire Will Little for arguing the call. On the very next pitch from Montgomery, Mark Teixeira stroked an RBI double to score Gardner.
The Mariners responded in the bottom of the frame off left-hander CC Sabathia. Austin Jackson, who was 4-for-4 with two walks in the game, slapped a one-out single to left. One out later, Cano hit a lined single to right that Carlos Beltran bobbled to allow Jackson to reach third.
Cruz followed with an opposite-field single to right that scored Jackson to tie the game.
The Mariners broke the tie in the sixth after Logan Morrison reached on a one-out single and Welington Castillo, who had replaced Zunino in the third inning, followed one out later with a single that advanced Morrison to third. Yankees manager Joe Girardi replaced Sabathia with right-hander David Carpenter and Jackson greeted him with a double that scored Morrison.
But the Yankees tied it in the ninth off Rodney, starting with a leadoff walk by Chase Headley and a two-out single by McCann, who was pinch-hitting for John Ryan Murphy, to move Headley to third. Drew then laced a double to right that scored Headley easily.
Montgomery was charged with one run on four hits and two walks with four strikeouts in six innings of work in his debut. Sabathia was charged with two runs on nine hits and two walks with five strikeouts in 5 2/3 innings.
With the victory the Yankees improved their season ledger to 28-25 and they maintained their one-game lead over the second-place Tampa Bay Rays in the American League East. The Mariners are 24-28.
- Oddly enough, Jones’ three-run home run was his his second of the season. Jones, 33, also hit a pinch-hit three-run homer with one out in the eighth inning off right-hander Tanner Scheppers to draw the Yankees to within 10-8 of the Texas Rangers in a game the Yankees eventually lost 10-9 on May 22. At that point, Jones was batting .150 with no homers and one RBI. Since then, Jones is 9-for-19 (.474) and that surge just may have rescued Jones’ tenure with the Yankees.
- If you throw out Carpenter’s inability to get Jackson out in the sixth that lost the lead, the Yankees bullpen was spectacular the rest of the way. The Mariners had many chances to win the game but Chasen Shreve, Jacob Lindgren, Dellin Betances, Wilson and Miller combined to yield just one run on four hits and two walks with seven strikeouts in five innings. The biggest reason the Yankees are on first place is their formidable bullpen.
- Drew, 32, also may have saved his future with the team with his RBI double in the ninth and his clutch two-out single in the 11th. Drew entered the game batting .160 with five homers and 15 RBIs after he batted a combined .162 in 2014 with the Boston Red Sox and the Yankees. The Yankees hope that Drew can turn it around soon but the team’s other second baseman, Jose Pirela, is batting just .222. Second base prospect Rob Refsnyder is batting only .276 with two homers and 18 RBIs and he also has committed 11 errors in 46 games with Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.
- Carpenter, 29, was called upon to do one thing – get out Jackson with two outs and runners on first and third – and he failed to do it. Carpenter is 0-1 with a bloated 4.82 ERA despite being able to throw 95-mph fastballs. But Carpenter has given up 20 hits and seven walks in 18 2/3 innings (1.45 WHIP) covering 22 appearances. There is just no excuse for how awful he is pitching.
- Gregorius, 25, would have ended up with big goat horns if the Yankees ended up losing the game. Gregorius was on first on a pinch-hit single off right-hander Mark Lowe to lead off the seventh. Murphy followed with a hard-hit single to right that should have allowed Gregorius to reach third with no outs. However, Gregorius tripped over the second-base bag and ended up being thrown by Cruz. The young shortstop was 2-for-3 after entering the game but his mental mistakes and physical errors at short sometimes hurt this team.
Outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury likely will not return to Yankees off the 15-day disabled list until late June, general manager Brian Cashman told Michael Kay on ESPN Radio on Tuesday. Cashman said Ellsbury will wear an immobilizing brace on his right knee for at least another week. Then the 31-year-old veteran, who has not played since May 19, will have 10 days to resume baseball activities and perhaps begin a rehab assignment. Ellsbury is leading the team in batting (.324) and steals (19) with one homer and six RBIs.
The Yankees will have an opportunity to sweep the three-game series with Mariners on Wednesday.
Right-hander Masahiro Tanaka (2-1, 3.44 ERA) will come off the disabled list to start of the Yankees. Tanaka, 26, last pitched on April 23 and was sidelined with tendinitis in right wrist and tightness in his right forearm.
The Mariners will counter with right-hander Taijuan Walker (2-5, 6.18 ERA), who is baseball’s equivalent of the little girl with the curl. When he is good – like his last outing – he is really good. He shut out the Cleveland Indians on just two hits with no walks and eight strikeouts in eight innings on Friday. But his record and ERA indicate how bad he has been in his other nine starts.
Game-time will be 3:30 p.m. EDT and the game will be broadcast by the YES Network.