The Mariners defeated the New York Yankees yesterday 4-3 in front of a nearly full Yankee stadium. The crowd lustily booed Robinson Cano during each of his at bats, but it only seemed to inspire the Mariner second baseman as he hit a pair of two run homers and provided all the Mariner offense. The M’s and Yanks have split the opening two games of this series by identical 4-3 scores. The rubber game of the match comes today with King Felix starting for the Mariners against CC Sabathia.
Fittingly, during Manager Lloyd McClendon’s post game interview, he called this game, the second since the All-Star break a “must win” game and expressed the importance of winning this series. With only 71 games remaining in the season, the Mariners trailing the pack in the division and the wild card race, the trading deadline a couple of weeks away, and desperately needing a sustained run of victories, nothing could be more true.
Yet, despite yesterday’s win, a lot of the bad stuff that plagued the M’s before the break have reared their ugly head in the first two games. The M’s continue to struggle to get on base and hit with runners in scoring position. They had opportunities on Friday ,against Yankee hurler Masahiro Tanaka, to score with the bases loaded in the second inning, but were unable to get the clutch hit they needed. Instead, all three runs came on a pair of Kyle Seager homers. Yesterday was pretty much the same story. One guy, two homers and that’s all the scoring. If the M’s are to win and win consistently, they have to get on base and drive in runs, sustain rallies and not depend on an occasional bolt of lightning.
On the good news front, the Mariners bullpen performed pretty much as it did last year in yesterday’s win. In his second performance since coming off the DL, Mariners starter Hisashi Iwakuma pitched well through 5.2 innings, but McClendon pulled him because of the heat and the lefty dominated line-up trotted out by Yankees skipper Joe Girardi. McLendon ran out everybody to pick up a ball and take a role in holding the Yankees down on the reservation to preserve a 4-2 lead. When closer Carson Smith came in, a series of M’s miscues-Austin Jackson’s misplayed fly ball and Mike Zunino’s subsequent goof on a pitch in the dirt-led to a third run, but Smith navigated the team’s way to victory. It’s the kind of performance the M’s will need every day and not the mistake riddled games of the first half.
I don’t know if the first two games of the short second half are glass half-full, or half empty.. We’ll know a bit more after the King’s performance today. It’s really a must win game.