Member back when the Yanks used to play against Pedro in his prime and the idea would be to hang in there, keep the game close, drive his pitch count up and then win a squeaker? They took the same approach today against Felix Hernandez and it looked like they might be able to touch him early–loading the bases in the first, runners on the corners in the second–but they only got one run out of it.
And one run was all they’d get against the King (even though Brett Gardner had 4 hits in the game) so it felt like one of those days when, sooner or later, the Mariners would blow it open. But the Mariners can’t score runs and Dave Phelps held them to a single run himself. David Robertson worked out of a jam in the 8th striking out the last two men of the inning.
Cut to the top of the 9th, when Chris Stewart, El Scrubbini, singled home Ichiro with two out to give the Yanks a 2-1 lead. Never mind they stranded the bases loaded, never mind Mark Teixeira struck out four times, they had a lead and Mariano Rivera.
A familiar scene. Went something like this…
Fastball, outside, line drive over short stop into left for a base hit. Seager singled on the first pitch he saw from Rivera yesterday, an inside cutter. It was as if he was waiting for Mo to change it up and he was ready.
Fastball, outside corner for a strike, 0-1. Cutter, in, and a ground ball to first. It bounces on a short hop to Tex, who snags the ball, steps on bag, and then throws over Seager’s head to Brignac who lays the glove down on the runner for the second out. Four strikeouts, yeah, but Teixeira turned the double play like he was falling out of bed.
Fastball, high and outside, 1-0. Fastball, inside, 2-0. Another fastball, high and inside, 3-0. Fastball, outside corner for a strike, 3-1. Fastball, inside again, misses, ball four. Second day in a row Rivera didn’t want any part of his old teammate.
Endy Chavez (pinch-hitting for Kelly Shoppach):
Stewart sets up outside, Mo misses the glove, 1-0. Fastball, a fat one, right over the plate for a strike, 1-1. Cutter, low, Chavez bends, Stewart freezes, so does Mo, but Rivera doesn’t get the ball, 2-1. Fastball right down the pike, Chavez swings and misses, 2-2. Another heater, plenty of plate, this one just up enough, Chavez fouls it back, still 2-2. Stewart sets up outside, Rivera misses, cutter darts inside and Chavez flares it into the seats foul. Fastball, high and fat, over the plate, and Chavez lines it to left for a single.
Tall lefty. Sees one pitch, a cutter and swings. Ball popped up, harmless, easy, a nothing-to-it fly ball to Vernon Wells.
Final Score: Yanks 2, Mariners 1.
Now we can digest.