SEATTLE – This time, there was nowhere for Ichiro Suzuki to run and hide.
A day after scurrying away from his Seattle teammates in the outfield following a winning hit, Ichiro had no choice but to face the mob waiting at the plate.
The pounding was worth it.
Facing dominating New York closer Mariano Rivera, the Mariners All-Star outfielder lined a two-out, two-run homer into the right-field seats to give the Mariners a stunning 3-2 win over the Yankees on Friday night.
After pinch-hitter Mike Sweeney kept the ninth alive with a two-out double off Rivera, Ichiro came through with the third game-winning homer this season for the Mariners. He jumped on the first pitch from Rivera (3-3) and set off the celebration.
“Today there was nowhere to escape. I got beat up a little bit,” Ichiro said through his interpreter.
The finish was so sudden since Rivera had been so dominant over the last few months. It was only the second time since June that Rivera has allowed a run, and just his second blown save of the year, having converted 36 straight. His previous blown save was April 24 when Boston’s Jason Bay tagged him for a two-run homer.
The ninth started in typical Rivera fashion. He overpowered Jack Hannahan and Mike Carp for his 999th and 1,000th career strikeouts. Then came Sweeney, who got a cutter that was left over the plate and sliced it into right-center field over the head of Nick Swisher.
Before anyone had time to notice a pinch runner in Sweeney’s place, Ichiro was trotting around the bases after his 10th homer of the season.
“The ball didn’t go where it was supposed to,” Rivera said. “It is different with Ichiro. He can do a lot of things. Definitely if you make a mistake, he is going to hurt you.”
Yankees manager Joe Girardi said even with first base open, the idea of walking Ichiro was pushed aside because of Ichiro’s excellent speed.
“It just shows he’s human. … We thought we’d go after him and (Mariano) did a pretty good job of that,” Girardi said.
Ichiro’s homer made a surprise winner out of Seattle ace Felix Hernandez, who padded his resume in the A.L. Cy Young award race with a victory over the best team in the American League.
Hernandez (16-5) escaped the few jams he faced, used his pitches efficiently, and tossed his second complete game of the season.
He threw just 104 pitches and lowered his September ERA to 0.58. “I was just thinking ‘base hit, base hit,’ ” Hernandez said. “Then came the homer and I was so excited.”
Mariners 3, Yankees 2
|Griffey Jr. dh||2||0||0||0||2||0||.215|
LOB—New York 5, Seattle 8. 2B—Damon 2 (33), Swisher (33), F.Gutierrez (20), Hall (7), M.Sweeney (15). HR—I.Suzuki (10), off Ma.Rivera. RBIs—Teixeira (113), A.Rodriguez (85), I.Suzuki 2 (43), Jo.Lopez (90). CS—I.Suzuki (9). SF—Teixeira, A.Rodriguez. RLSP—New York 2 (H.Matsui, J.Molina); Seattle 3 (Beltre, Hall, Ro.Johnson). GIDP—Me.Cabrera, J.Molina. DP—Seattle 2 (Jo.Lopez, Jo.Wilson, Hannahan), (Jo.Wilson, Jo.Lopez, Hannahan).
|Rivera L, 3-3 BS, 2-42||2/3||2||2||2||0||2||1.94|
HBP—by A.Burnett (Ro.Johnson). WP—F.Hernandez. PB—Ro.Johnson. T—2:32. A—28,935 (47,878).