NEW YORK – So many things seemed to be conspiring against the Seattle Mariners on Tuesday night that it was tough to tell what would ultimately do them in.
There was the makeshift lineup featuring a backup middle infielder at third base, another at shortstop, a DH in left field and a closer trying to become a starter on the mound. Throw in an umpiring crew that called some questionable check-swing strikeouts and appeared to miss a call at first base, and the 8-5 loss to the New York Yankees seemed like it should have been automatic.
But it wasn’t.
Not on a night when even a homer in the seventh inning by Alex Rodriguez wasn’t enough to derail a M’s squad that scored two in the eighth to tie it. In the end, the M’s finally did collapse in the bottom of the eighth as the Yankees opened with four straight hits – two of them doubles – and three runs off newly installed reliever Sean White.
But not before the Mariners had given the home team all it could handle in their debut before 46,181 fans in a riveting game at the new Yankee Stadium.
This was a walk-strewn battle of relievers-turned-starters for most of the first five innings as Brandon Morrow and Joba Chamberlain emerged locked in a 3-3 tie. That was finally snapped in the seventh inning as Rodriguez drilled a Chris Jakubauskas pitch deep over the left-field wall with a runner on to give the Yankees a 5-3 lead.
But the Mariners came back to tie it off Brian Bruney in the eighth as Kenji Johjima drove one run home with a single and Russell Branyan added a bases-loaded sacrifice fly.
That only postponed the inevitable. White came on to pitch the eighth and yielded a double to Hideki Matsui, a bunt single to Nick Swisher, a go-ahead double by Melky Cabrera and a two-run single by Derek Jeter.
Morrow’s biggest problems early came courtesy of walks and Chris Woodward, installed at third base as the replacement for an injured Adrian Beltre. With two on and none out in the second inning, Matsui chopped a ball up the third base line that Woodward had plenty of time to make a play on.
But Woodward bobbled the transfer of the ball to his throwing hand, then compounded the problem by throwing it away at first base. A run scored on the play, and Jorge Posada moved up to third base.
Woodward was charged with two errors on the same play, and Posada wound up scoring the second unearned run of the inning when Cabrera hit a sacrifice fly.
But Ronny Cedeno, who started the game at shortstop, breathed new life into the Mariners. First, he did it in the field to end the problematic second inning. He snared a hard shot that deflected off Woodward and made a strong throw to first for the final out of the frame.
Then, in the top of the third, Cedeno drilled a pitch over the wall in left center to make it 2-1.
Morrow’s control problems led to another New York run in the fourth and a 3-1 Yankees’ lead.
The M’s tied the score in the fifth when Ichiro legged out an infield single, stole second and third, and scored on a Russell Branyan single. Later, Jose Lopez also stole second and scored on a bloop single by Franklin Gutierrez.
Morrow managed to get two outs in the fifth inning, but left with the bases loaded after two more walks.
Jakubauskas came in to get Matsui on a groundout.
Seattle had a good chance to take the lead in the sixth. After a leadoff single by Johjima, Cedeno appeared to beat out a bunt for a single. But first-base umpire Dale Scott called him out. Instead of two on with none out, the M’s went on to strand Johjima.
Yankees 8, Mariners 5
|Griffey Jr. lf||4||0||0||0||1||1||.213|
E—Woodward 2 (2). LOB—Seattle 10, New York 8. 2B—Johjima (4), Damon 2 (19), H.Matsui (13), Me.Cabrera (12). HR—Cedeno (3), off Chamberlain; A.Rodriguez (12), off Jakubauskas. RBIs—Branyan 2 (40), F.Gutierrez (28), Johjima (11), Cedeno (8), Jeter 2 (32), A.Rodriguez 2 (39), Me.Cabrera 3 (31). SB—I.Suzuki 3 (16), Jo.Lopez (2). S—Cedeno 2. SF—Branyan, Me.Cabrera. RLSIP—Seattle 5 (M.Sweeney, Cedeno, Woodward, Branyan, Jo.Lopez); New York 5 (A.Rodriguez 2, Jeter, H.Matsui 2). RMU—Damon. GIDP—Johjima, Teixeira. DP—Seattle 1 (Jo.Lopez, Cedeno, Branyan); New York 1 (A.Rodriguez, Teixeira).
|White L, 2-1||1||4||3||3||0||0||2.48|
|Bruney W, 3-0 BS, 1-1||1||3||2||2||1||0||3.95|
|Ma.Rivera S, 19-20||1||0||0||0||0||1||2.84|
Inherited runners-scored—Jakubauskas 3-0, Coke 1-0. IBB—off Bruney (I.Suzuki). T—3:16. A—46,181 (52,325).