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Thursday, May 28, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Irabu Hears Calls Of The Wild Boo-Birds Weigh In As M’S Stop Yankees

By Larry Larue Tacoma News Tribune

When the Far East met the Northwest on Saturday, the fortunes of Hideki Irabu went south.

Two innings into a start at Yankee Stadium, Irabu was gone, tagged for six runs by Seattle hitters. And 54,664 Yankees fans voiced their displeasure.

Though the game turned into a wildly entertaining 9-7 victory for the Mariners, New York couldn’t ease the blow to Irabu’s pride.

Or his earned-run average.

“You don’t get this much publicity, this much hype, that much money if you’re ordinary,” rookie Jose Cruz Jr. said. “I’m sure he’s special. He just hasn’t had time to show it. We jumped on him quick.”

After squeezing out an unearned run in the first inning, when Joey Cora was safe on an error, stole second base, took third on another error and scored on a ground ball, the Mariners humiliated Irabu in the second inning.

The 28-year-old right-hander was flattened by a four-hit rally that was punctuated by a three-run home run from Cruz and a two-run shot by Alex Rodriguez.

That was it for Irabu. Gone after two innings, his record fell to 2-2, his earned-run average rose to 7.97 and he heard a thunderous chorus of boos as he walked off the field.

“In this game, everybody gets booed some time,” Ken Griffey Jr. said.

Irabu left trailing 6-0, but the Yankees rallied and, as Norm Charlton said, the Mariners simply don’t play boring games.

“You buy Mariners season tickets,” Charlton said, “you get your money’s worth.”

“This was a great game for national television, a great game for the fans here and our fans at home,” manager Lou Piniella said, “but I think you can see why I’m losing weight …”

Let us count the reasons.

In a game that featured Mariners home runs from Cruz, Rodriguez, Jay Buhner and Griffey, the Yankees fought back with a three-run home run by Paul O’Neill - and a pair of home runs from Tino Martinez.

That 6-0 lead was cut to 6-4 by the third inning. Starter Bob Wolcott was gone before getting through the fifth inning. Seattle inched ahead, 7-4, and the Yankees closed to within 7-5. The Mariners pulled away again, 9-5.

And by the seventh inning, New York was down by two, 9-7, with the tying run at the plate.

“Relax?” Piniella said afterward, stealing a cigarette. “Hell, I can hardly watch.”

For all that offense, what put this game away in the end were the evil twins of the Seattle bullpen - maligned relievers Bobby Ayala and Charlton.

Ayala (7-4) got a double-play grounder to end the seventh inning, then got one out into the ninth before the Yankees brought up left-handed hitters O’Neill and Martinez. Piniella went with Charlton, who trotted in with a 7.80 ERA and a serious rush of adrenaline.

“Anybody who’s ever been there will tell you the same thing,” Charlton said. “There’s nothing in baseball like working the ninth inning.”

Charlton worked it, getting a grounder from O’Neill, then an out from Martinez when first baseman Paul Sorrento made a diving stop of a hard-hit grounder.

For Charlton, the scourge of Northwest sports talk shows, the save was his 14th of the year. It sealed a historic victory for the Mariners, who are 15 games above .500 (59-44) for the first time in franchise history.

“We’ve been playing well, we wanted to keep it going,” Rodriguez said. “We weren’t focused on Irabu, but we were focused. This is an important trip for us, an important series. This was a challenge for us today, and we met the challenge.”

Irabu, the $11 million import, was yanked after two innings for the simplest of reasons.

“We’d given the Mariners enough of a lead,” Joe Torre deadpanned. “Why give them more?”

Ouch.

If it was not a particularly well-played game - both teams made mistakes that prolonged innings and led to runs - but it was intense. Piniella and Torre each used five pitchers, the Mariners pounded out 11 hits, New York 10.

“We don’t give up,” Tino Martinez said. “Neither do they.”

New York writers surrounded Griffey and asked if Seattle was trying to make a statement.

“We don’t make statements, we play baseball,” Griffey said. “There’s two months left to play, it’s not that complicated. We’ve got to keep winning, no matter who the other team is, no matter who their starting pitcher is.”

Then they turned to the subject of Irabu, asking Griffey whether he sympathized with the stress of pitching in front of a New York crowd filled with high expectations.

“He wanted to be here, he made it clear this was the only team he’d play for,” Griffey said with a shrug. “He was outspoken about that, and he got what he wanted.”

Mariners 9, Yankees 7

Seattle AB R H BI BB SO Avg.

Cora 2b 5 2 1 0 0 1 .331

ARodriguez ss 5 1 3 3 0 0 .313

Griffey Jr cf 5 1 1 2 0 1 .293

EMartinez dh 4 0 0 0 0 1 .328

Buhner rf 3 2 1 1 1 1 .251

Sorrento 1b 4 1 3 0 0 0 .281

Cruz Jr lf 4 1 1 3 0 0 .257

DaWilson c 0 0 0 0 0 0 .288

RDavis 3b 4 0 0 0 0 0 .299

Marzano c 3 1 1 0 0 0 .311

b-Ducey ph-lf 1 0 0 0 0 0 .271

Totals 38 9 11 9 1 4

New York AB R H BI BB SO Avg.

Jeter ss 5 1 2 0 0 1 .293

Sojo 2b 5 0 1 0 0 0 .297

O’Neill rf 3 2 1 3 2 0 .339

TMartinez 1b 5 2 3 3 0 0 .298

Hayes 3b 3 0 0 0 1 1 .273

Boggs dh 4 1 1 0 0 1 .278

Curtis cf 4 0 1 1 0 1 .267

Girardi c 3 0 0 0 0 0 .250

a-ICruz ph 0 0 0 0 1 0 .250

Posada c 0 0 0 0 0 0 .243

Pose lf 4 1 1 0 0 0 .250

Totals 36 7 10 7 4 4

Seattle 150 001 200 9

New York 004 001 200 7

a-walked for Girardi in the 8th. b-popped out for Marzano in the 9th.

E-TMartinez (4), Girardi (4). LOB-Seattle 3, New York 6. 2B-ARodriguez (29), Sorrento (14), Jeter (17), Boggs (12). HR- Griffey Jr (32) off Lloyd; Buhner (26) off Mendoza; TMartinez 2 (35) off Lira, Wolcott; O’Neill (14) off Wolcott; ARodriguez (15) off Irabu; Cruz Jr (12) off Irabu. RBIs-ARodriguez 3 (53), Griffey Jr 2 (95), Buhner (76), Cruz Jr 3 (34), O’Neill 3 (76), TMartinez 3 (97), Curtis (26). SB-Cora (5), Pose 2 (3). GIDP-Cruz Jr, Boggs.

Runners left in scoring position-Seattle 2 (EMartinez, RDavis); New York 4 (Jeter 2, Hayes 2).

Runners moved up-Cora, ARodriguez, Griffey Jr, Cruz Jr, Sojo.

DP-Seattle 1 (ARodriguez, Cora and Sorrento); New York 1 (Sojo, Jeter and TMartinez).

Seattle IP H R ER BB SO NP ERA Wolcott 4-2/3 6 4 4 1 3 57 5.16 Holzemer 0 1 0 0 0 0 2 9.00 Lira 1-2/3 3 3 3 2 0 41 5.99 Ayala W,7-4 2 0 0 0 1 1 29 4.88 Charlton S,14 2/3 0 0 0 0 0 9 7.69 New York IP H R ER BB SO NP ERA Irabu L,2-2 2 4 6 5 1 1 41 7.97 Mendoza 4-2/3 4 2 2 0 0 64 4.36 Lloyd 1/3 1 1 1 0 0 6 3.38 Nelson 1 1 0 0 0 1 17 2.65 MRivera 1 1 0 0 0 2 20 1.96 Holzemer pitched to 1 batter in the 5th.

Inherited runners-scored-Holzemer 2-0, Lira 3-0, Ayala 1-0, Lloyd 1-1.

T-3:09. A-54,664 (57,545).

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