NEW YORK – A stiff breeze at this ballpark should have sent a chill down the spine of every Mariners pitcher before the game even began.
If not, they sure were feeling the dread by the middle innings of this 4-2 loss Wednesday night as the New York Yankees got the lumber going. Home runs have been flying out of the new Yankee Stadium at a record pace and the feeble-hitting Mariners are in no position to embark on a slugfest with anybody.
The last thing the Mariners needed was any extra breeze to bolster a supposed “wind tunnel” blowing out to right field. In fact, the Yankees have enough power on their own to make life difficult, and two of their three home runs in this contest did not go to the right-field power alley.
Alex Rodriguez hit the decisive blow of the game, a tiebreaking, two-run shot off Jarrod Washburn, well beyond the wall in straightaway center in the sixth inning. That followed an earlier solo blast by Melky Cabrera in the fifth that appeared to soar over the foul pole in left field and had to be confirmed by video review after Washburn and the Mariners immediately protested.
“It was a pretty good pitch probably to most guys. But not to him,” Washburn said of the Rodriguez homer. “I think if I’d have had it up a little more, it might have given him more trouble. He’s a great low-ball hitter.”
New York did hit one out to right field, with Johnny Damon demonstrating the sheer power of the wind tunnel with a solo blast in the third inning to open the scoring.
Seattle tried to counter. Ken Griffey Jr. hit a game-tying solo homer off Yankees starter Andy Pettitte into the same right-field gust of wind in the top of the sixth.
But that lasted just a half inning before Rodriguez got all of a Washburn offering.
Unlike the lengthy, pitch-by-pitch battle that dragged on for three-plus hours Tuesday night, this contest was efficient, with few hits other than long balls interrupting the pace of the two starting pitchers. A crowd of 45,285 fans watched the Mariners play catch-up most of the night, just as they had throughout Tuesday’s opener.
“Offensively, the key to this game is Pettitte,” Mariners manager Don Wakamatsu said. “He changed speeds and I think for the first time all year, kept Ichiro and (Russell) Branyan hitless. If we get any offense at all, we’d have given Wash a chance to win this game.”
The latest Griffey homer gave him career homers in 44 different parks, one behind Sammy Sosa in that department.