Cliff Lee was good on Tuesday night, limiting the Yankees to a pair of Nick Swisher solo home runs and two meaningless ninth-inning tallies on his way to a complete game victory. Felix Hernandez was great Wednesday night, limiting the Yankees to a trio of walks and just two hits, one of which was a pop-up to second that Chone Figgins lost in the gloaming and Colin Curtis hustled into a double, on his way to an 11-strikeout complete game shutout. Lee and Hernandez thus became the first two pitchers to throw back-to-back complete games against the Yankees since 2000 and Hernandez became the first visiting pitcher to shutout the Yankees at the new stadium.
Meanwhile, the Mariners scored seven runs against the Yankees in each of the last two contest. Phil Hughes, who was not only pitching on nine-days’ rest but also fighting off a cold, gave up all seven on Tuesday. Last night, Javier Vazquez turned in a bare-minimum quality start (6 IP, 3 R), striking out eight but using up 113 pitches in the process, then the bullpen coughed up four more Mariner runs in the final three frames. All but one of those Seattle runs came on home runs. Milton Bradley hit a solo shot of Vazquez in the second. Michael Saunders had a pair, a solo of Vazquez in the third and a two-run jack off Chad Gaudin in the eighth. Lefty-swinging Russell Branyan, just reacquired before this series to give the Seattle lineup some thump, did his part with a two-run shot off Damaso Marte in the seventh. The other Mariner run came with two outs in the third when Vazquez hit Branyan with an 0-1 pitch, Bradley reached on an infield single, and Jose Lopez singled Branyan home from second.
The lone legitimate Yankee hit was a double down the left field line by Mark Teixeira to lead off the fourth. He never got to third base as Hernandez retired 17 of the next 18 men (the exception being Curtis’s dropped pop-up) until Ramiro Peña, who entered the game with the subs in the top of the ninth, walked with one out in the bottom of the ninth and Hernandez up past 100 pitches.
Amazingly, this was just the second time all season that Lee and Hernandez registered back-to-back wins, though the first time was just two turns ago. In their last six combined starts, Lee and Hernandez have gone 5-0 with five complete games. In the sixth game, Hernandez allowed just one run in nine innings, but the Mariners lost in 13.