The Yankees jumped out to an early 2-0 lead last night as a two-out first-inning rally was capped off by a Robinson Cano chopper up the middle that plated Bobby Abreu and Jason Giambi. Chien-Ming Wang ran with it, limiting the Mariners to just three base runners through six innings. Meanwhile, the Yankees added to their lead with a five-run fourth inning that drove Seattle starter Felix Hernandez from the game after having allowed all seven runs on nine hits and four walks while throwing 82 pitches in just 3 2/3 inning.
Wang looked dominant while shutting Seattle out on 69 pitches over six innings and getting 14 of his first 18 outs by groundout or strikeout, but he showed some signs of fatigue in the seventh. After light-hitting Willie Bloomquist popped out to start the inning, Richie Sexson hit a hard hopper to Nick Green at third, who went 3 for 5 starting for Alex Rodriguez, who remained at the hotel with a throat infection on orders from his manager. Green made a spectacular backhanded grab of Sexson’s hard shot, but fired wide and low to first base. Craig Wilson was unable to get his glove on Green’s throw, which bound into the stands to put Sexson on second base with one out. Raul Ibañez then pushed Sexson over to third for the second out.
So far so good, just one hard-hit ball, two outs, and a runner on third due largely to an error. Then again, Ibañez’s grounder came on a 2-0 count and Jose Lopez followed with a hard single up the middle off Robinson Cano’s glove on another 2-0 count to score Sexson. Ben Broussard then took ball one and singled into center to push Lopez to second and Yuniesky Betancourt followed with yet another single to center, plating Lopez. Wang finally got pinch-hitter Kenji Johjima to ground out to end the inning, but it was clear that, despite his having thrown just 90 pitches, Wang’s night was over.
The Yanks added a pair of runs in the top of the eighth, the key hits being doubles by Abreu and Cano, and Mike Myers and Octavio Dotel mopped up, pitching scoreless the eighth and ninth innings respectively. Dotel didn’t look completely comfortable early in the ninth, stretching his arms and walking around the mound while issuing a six-pitch walk to Ibañez, but seemed to loosen up after that, getting his fastball up to 95 miles per hour and striking out the last two batters he faced, both swinging, to wrap up the 9-2 Yankee win.
In other news, the Yankees have put Mike Mussina on the 15-day disabled list due to the groin injury he aggravated on Sunday night. Jeffrey Karstens was already scheduled to take Mussina’s turn against the Angels on Sunday, but the DL move will now force the Yankees to use Karstens (or another minor leaguer) on September 2 against the Twins as well. Brian Bruney, who has struck out six, but also walked four in his 2 2/3 scoreless Yankee innings, takes Moose’s spot on the roster. Sidney Ponson, who was designated for assignment with along with Bruney after Friday’s double header, cleared waivers and has been released. Can I say I told you so now?