SEATTLE – Need a walk-off hit? Who better than the guy who leads the American League in RBIs.
Nelson Cruz delivered a walk-off RBI single Saturday night in the 10th inning that lifted the Mariners to a wild 6-5 victory over the New York Yankees in front of a sellout crowd at Safeco Field.
“Everybody got their money’s worth,” manager Scott Servais said. “There was a lot of energy in the ballpark. Exciting game. Back and forth. We needed a win tonight.
“The Yankees got us the first couple (in the series), but the intensity level was there tonight.”
The Mariners appeared to have the game won twice before Cruz’s walk-off winner. First, they blew a 4-1 lead when the Yankees scored single runs in the fifth, sixth and eighth innings.
And then, after Robinson Cano made it 5-4 with a leadoff homer in the eighth, Edwin Diaz came within one strike of closing out the victory before the Yankees pulled even.
Somehow, it worked out – which hasn’t been the case lately.
“That was a great game,” said left fielder Ben Gamel, a former Yankees farmhand whom the Mariners acquired roughly 11 months ago in a trade. “They battled just as much as we did. Fortunately, we came out on top.”
Gamel started the winning rally with a leadoff double against Adam Warren (2-2) on a drive over the head of center fielder Brett Gardner.
“I saw Warren (on Friday),” Gamel said. “I had a pitch in mind, and I got it. A little slider/cutter over the plate.”
That prompted an intentional walk to Cano, a .349 hitter in 21 games against his former club. That got the game to Cruz, who lined a single into left field.
Gamel got a great break from second base and easily beat the throw from Clint Frazier for the winning run.
“It was a great victory,” said Cruz, who has 75 RBIs. “Everybody contributed. It’s fun. You always want to win right away so you don’t (overwork) your bullpen. But a victory is a victory.”
Tony Zych, the seventh pitcher used by the Mariners, got the victory after retiring the Yankees in the top of the inning. He is 4-2.
The Mariners (49-50) won for just the third time in their last 14 home games. They also beat the Yankees for only the second time in the last 14 games between the two teams at Safeco.
But, boy, the Mariners did it the hard way.
Lefty Ariel Miranda handed a 4-2 lead to Steve Cishek with one out and nobody on base in the sixth inning –and Aaron Judge coming to the plate. Miranda was at 93 pitches.
That didn’t work.
Judge hit a 2-2 pitch into the right-field seats for his 32nd homer of the season. Cishek retired the next two hitters before the Mariners went to newcomer David Phelps in the seventh inning.
Phelps worked a three-up, three-down frame and then struck out the first hitter in the eighth inning before the Mariners called on Marc Rzepczynski for a left-on-left matchup against Gardner.
That didn’t work.
Gardner reached on an infield single. The Mariners then made another pitching change, with a series of right-handed hitters coming up, to right-hander Nick Vincent.
That didn’t work either.
Clint Frazier drove Vincent’s first pitch off the left-field wall for a double. Gardner stopped at third. An intentional walk to Judge loaded the bases for Matt Holliday with one out.
Holliday tied the game with a sacrifice fly that also moved Frazier to third, which stuck Vincent with his first blown save of the season.
Vincent held the tie when right fielder Mitch Haniger charged in to catch Gary Sanchez’s sinking liner.
The Mariners regained the lead on Cano’s leadoff homer later in the inning against David Robertson, which got the game to Diaz.
Didi Gregorius opened the ninth inning with a walk, but Diaz retired the next two hitters before pinch-runner Jacoby Ellsbury stole second base. That steal turned into a run when Ronald Torreyes flicked a single into left field.
Torreyes nearly struck out earlier in the at-bat but stayed alive by throwing his bat at the ball and just getting a piece of it.
Diaz ended the inning by striking out Gardner, but it was his fourth blown save in 22 chances.
The Mariners built a 4-1 lead against New York starter Masahiro Tanaka by scoring four runs in the third inning. Mike Zunino and Gamel each had homers.
New York got one run back in the fifth inning after Garrett Cooper’s one-out triple just beyond the reach of Jarrod Dyson at the center-field wall. Dyson slammed into the wall and was slow to get to his feet.
Torreyes followed with a sacrifice fly — to Dyson, who finished the inning. Guillermo Heredia replaced Dyson to start the sixth inning.
Local journalism is essential.
Give directly to The Spokesman-Review's Northwest Passages community forums series -- which helps to offset the costs of several reporter and editor positions at the newspaper -- by using the easy options below. Gifts processed in this system are not tax deductible, but are predominately used to help meet the local financial requirements needed to receive national matching-grant funds.
Subscribe to the sports newsletter
Get the day’s top sports headlines and breaking news delivered to your inbox by subscribing here.