YANKEES 3, MARINERS 2
Getting a clutch hit with a runner in scoring position has been about as scarce as sightings of a dinosaur for the Yankees. In fact, those big hits in close games have gone pretty much extinct.
But Jacoby Ellsbury delivered a tie-breaking RBI single to score Derek Jeter from second with one out in the eighth inning as New York edged Seattle on Tuesday in front of a paid crowd of 28,405 at Safeco Field.
Ellsbury’s game-winner came off left-hander Charlie Furbush, who had just come into the game after Jeter blasted a ground-rule double to deep center off right-hander Hisashi Iwakuma.
Dellin Betances (4-0) was credited with the victory in relief despite yielding a 2-1 lead in the bottom of the seventh inning by hitting Mike Zunino with a pitch, uncorking a wild pitch to advance Zunino to second and then giving up a two-out RBI single Dustin Ackley.
Mike Warren pitched a scoreless eighth and David Robertson struck out the side in the ninth to get credit for his 15th save in 17 opportunities this season.
The Yankees took an early 2-1 lead off Iwakuma in the first inning as Jeter stroked a one-out single and, one out later, Mark Teixeira lined a single of his own. Carlos Beltran followed with an RBI double to score Jeter and Brian McCann bounced an infield single up the middle to score Teixeira,
Iwakuma (4-3) was charged with three runs on seven hits and two walks while he struck out five in 7 1/3 innings.
The Mariners managed to halve the Yankees’ lead in the bottom of the first off left-hander Vidal Nuno on a two-out double by Robin$on Cano and an RBI single off the bat off Cole Gillespie.
But Nuno managed to hold the Mariners scoreless into the sixth inning. He yielded just the one run on four hits and one walk with two strikeouts in 5 2/3 innings.
Nuno got a lot of help from his outfield defense in maintaining the lead.
In the second inning, former Mariner Ichiro Suzuki made a spectacular leaping catch on the warning track on a ball off the bat of Kyle Seager. Then in the fourth, Ellsbury grabbed a blast at the top of the center-field wall off Michael Saunders with a runner on second and third and two out.
The victory was the Yankees’ first of the season against the Mariners after being swept in three games at Yankee Stadium.
The victory also prevented the Yankees from dropping below .500 for the first time since April 11, when they were 5-6.
They are 32-31 and they are tied with the Baltimore Orioles for second place in the American League East. Both teams trail the first-place Toronto Blue Jays by 5 1/2 games.
The Mariners are now 34-30.
- Ellsbury’s RBI single also extended his hitting streak to 14 games dating back to May 26. During that span, Ellsbury is 21-for-56 (.375) with a home run and nine RBIs. That has raised his season average from .258 to .286.
- Jeter was 2-for-3 with a walk and two runs scored after entering the evening on a 3-for-26 (.115) skid. His troubles at the plate were part of the reason the Yankees were averaging just 2.5 runs over the past 10 games and the team was 3-7 in the stretch.
- Give Nuno a lot of credit on a excellent start. Nuno has pitched exceptional on the road and terrible at Yankee Stadium this season. In his four road starts, he is 1-0 with a 1.87 ERA. In his six home starts, he is 0-2 with a 6.07 ERA.
- Despite his excellent defensive play in right, Suzuki took a rare 0-for-4 collar in the game. It is the first time Suzuki has not gotten a hit in a game in which he has started since May 28. His season average slipped from .320 to .308. Though it was a bad night at the plate, Suzuki is one of the few Yankees who has hit consistently.
- Betances had a rare bad outing. His problems started when he drilled Zunino with a breaking pitch. The wild pitch also came off a poorly thrown breaking ball. Ackley then singled just over the outstretched glove of Brian Roberts on a hanging breaking ball. Without his dominant slider Betances is hittable. But he still is 4-0 with a 1.69 ERA and batters are hitting only .147 off him.
The Mariners honored Jeter before the game with a pre-game ceremony in which he was given a chair from the old Kingdome, a base, a watch with a personal inscription from Cano and a $5,000 donation for Jeter’s charitable Turn 2 Foundation. . . . Right-hander Shawn Kelley is expected to be activated on Wednesday and rejoin the bullpen. Kelley, 31, has not pitched since May 6 after suffering a strained lumbar spine. He is 1-2 with a 3.52 ERA in 16 games this season.
The Yankees will continue their three-game series with the Mariners on Wednesday.
Rookie sensation Masahiro Tanaka (9-1, 2.02 ERA) will start for the Yankees trying to extend his six-game winning streak. Tanaka beat the Oakland Athletics on Thursday by holding them to one run on five hits and a walk with four K’s in six innings.
Veteran right-hander Chris Young (5-3, 3.42 ERA) will pitch for the Mariners. Young lost to the Tampa Bay Rays on Friday, yielding three runs on seven hits and five walks in five innings. But Young is 6-0 with a 2.84 ERA in nine career starts at Safeco Field.
Game-time will be 10:10 p.m. EDT and the game will be broadcast by the YES Network.