With the score knotted at 1-1, Randy Johnson gave up three runs in the third inning of last night’s game on a pair of doubles by Chris Snelling and Richie Sexson and a pair of singles by Willie Bloomquist and Jose Lopez. Bloomquist’s single was a dribbler down the first base line that rolled to a stop just inside the foul line. Lopez’s single scored Snelling, and Sexson’s double scored Bloomquist and Lopez. The Mariners wouldn’t score again, but they wouldn’t need to.
Outside of that inning, Johnson was excellent, allowing just one run on three hits and two walks in his other seven innings. All totaled, Johnson pitched a complete game in a losing effort, needing just 109 pitches to go eight full, throwing 73 percent of those for strikes. The reason Johnson got the loss was not so much that one bad inning, but rather that the Yankee offense, without Alex Rodriguez for the second straight game due to a viral infection, couldn’t get anything going against Seattle starter Jarrod Washburn, who struck out nine Yankees in 6 1/3 innings while holding limiting them to two runs, the later of which, Johnny Damon’s career best 21st home run of the year, drove Washburn from the game in the seventh inning. To be fair, Washburn’s defense deserves some credit as well, with Snelling and Ichiro Suzuki making some fine catches in the outfield, the best being Suzuki’s Willie Mays-like, back-to-home snag of a 390-foot drive off the bat of Nick Green just before Damon’s homer in the seventh.
Indeed, as evidenced by Bloomquist’s infield single, the breaks (and I just happen to be listening to Kurtis Blow as I write this) just didn’t go the Yankees’ way last night. In the ninth inning, with closer J.J. Putz on the mound for the Mariners, Melky Cabrera led off with a hot shot that clanged of defensive replacement Ben Broussard’s glove at first base, but Broussard recovered in time to shovel the ball to Putz for the first out. Joe Torre then sent Bernie Williams up to pinch-hit for Craig Wilson (1 for 2, BB, scored the Yankees’ first run on a Jeter double in the third) and brought Alex Rodriguez out on deck to hit for Nick Green (0 for 2 thanks to Ichiro, K). After getting ahead 2-1, Bernie hit another hot shot back through the middle that looked like a sure single until it ricocheted off Putz’s leg straight to Lopez at second base. With two outs, Rodriguez made his seventh career pinch-hitting appearance and struck out on a 2-2 fastball in on his hands to run his career pinch-hitting record to 0 for 7 with three strikeouts. Final score: 4-2 Mariners.