The Yankees opened up the second half of their season in style, with a series win over the underperforming Mariners. The team now holds a 4-game lead over the 2nd place Orioles in the AL East. The extra rest seemed to not faze them, especially the pitching staff, who gave up no more than 4 runs in any game this series.
The Yankees overcame a two-homer night from Kyle Seager to start their second half with a 4-3 win. Seager hit a solo shot in the 3rd and a two-run homer in the 5th to give the Mariners a 3-2 lead. However, those 3 runs would be all that Yankees starter Masahiro Tanaka would give up, as he struck out 7 over 7 innings. The tandem of Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller combined to allow one hit in 2 innings as Miller earned his 19th save of the year. Austin Jackson also had 2 hits for Seattle.
The Yankees were able to stay in the game, thanks to an RBI single by Brian McCann in the bottom of the 5th to tie the game. Alex Rodriguez hit a go-ahead homer in the bottom of the 7th to provide the eventual outcome. Mariners starter Mike Montgomery was able to match Tanaka through 6, giving up 3 runs and striking out 9. Rodriguez and Chris Young each had 2 hits and a homer for the Yankees, who were able to finish the game in an unusually tidy 2 hours and 43 minutes.
After Seager hit two dingers in the first ballgame, Robinson Cano followed suit for Seattle in the second game, a 4-3 Mariners win. The former Yankee went deep in the 1st and the 6th off of Michael Pineda, and drove Seager in both times. Pineda did not pitch as well as he has in his last few starts, giving up 4 runs in 6 innings on 105 pitches. Cano had 3 of Seattle’s 7 hits, and drove in all 4 of their runs.
Carson Smith nearly blew it for the Mariners in the 9th, allowing the tying run to get to second before getting Didi Gregorius to ground out to end the game. The only other Yankees run came via a homer by Brian McCann in the 4th. Hisashi Iwakuma was able to keep the Yankees in check through 5.2 innings, and the bullpen gave up only 2 hits the rest of the way. Mark Teixeira had two hits to pace the Yankees.
A pitcher’s duel ensued in the rubber game. The game was deadlocked at 1 until the bottom of the 8th, when Tex was able to club his 23rd homer of the year to put the Yankees in the lead for good. Felix Hernandez threw 6 innings of one run ball to stymie the Yankees. A Carlos Beltran RBI single was the only blemish on his otherwise gritty start. The Yankees could only manage 6 hits for the game but that was all they needed.
CC Sabathia matched Hernandez through 6, allowing just one run, but his bullpen put up zeros in the final 3 frames to seal the series. Austin Jackson had an RBI single to give the Mariners a short-lived lead in the top of the 5th, and had the go-ahead run at 3rd in the 7th, but couldn’t push that much-needed 2nd run across. Former Yankee prospect Jesus Montero paced Seattle with 2 hits.
All in all, the Yankees came out of the gates with two tough wins, and took an important series.
Offensive MVP: Mark Teixeira- A homer and a double to highlight a 5-10 series.
Offensive Slug: Jacoby Ellsbury– One hit for the man who is supposed to jolt this offense into high gear.
Pitcher of the Series: CC Sabathia- He was able to match Felix Hernandez pitch-for-pitch in a crucial rubber game.
Pitching Nightmare: Michael Pineda- Not really a nightmare, but not in line with his recent starts: 4 runs in 6 innings.