Ibañez wrecks Felix’s, Mariners' night
NEW YORK – Felix Hernandez was in another of those low-scoring, tie games when the Seattle Mariners scored for him in the sixth inning Friday.
He never recovered.
Moments after Jesus Montero’s solo home run against his former teammates put Seattle ahead, the New York Yankees rode a two-out, three-run home run by former Mariner Raul Ibañez to a two-run lead that became a 6-2 victory.
It wasn’t as if Hernandez was dominant one moment, lost the next – this one was a battle for him for most of his 62/3 innings. When he got to the sixth inning tied, it was as much a matter of will as control.
Though Hernandez may be one of those pitchers who can get away with subpar games like this – he allowed 11 hits in less than seven innings – he cannot do it without runs.
For five innings against New York and Hiroki Kuroda, the Mariners gave Hernandez one run, that coming on the first leadoff home run of Dustin Ackley’s career.
One batter. One swing. One run.
Six innings later, it was still all the Mariners had, and they would have trailed by then had left fielder Mike Carp not thrown out Alex Rodriguez at plate in the fourth inning.
“It was the first time I’ve really cut loose a throw since I got hurt in Japan,” Carp said. “I came up with the ball, tried to stay on top of it and made a pretty good throw.
“If nothing else, that’ll help my mindset from now on.”
That play was as much a matter of third base coach Rob Thomson’s poor decision as Carp’s arm. Had Thomson held up A-Rod, the Yankees would have had the bases loaded with no one out.
Instead, the game remained tied and a big inning was gutted.
So when Montero silenced Yankees fans with his fifth home run of the season, the Mariners had a 2-1 lead in the sixth inning.
Felix couldn’t hold it.
“I gave up a lot of singles but controlled it until that one pitch to Raul,” Hernandez said. “I started him each at-bat with a sinker but that pitch didn’t sink. That’s the one pitch tonight I want back.”
Hernandez uncharacteristically walked the first man he faced in the sixth, Rodriguez, and gave up one of Robinson Cano’s four hits to put two men on with no one out.
He rallied for a force out, then a strikeout – his seventh – to bring up Ibañez.
The man who came up through the Seattle organization is universally well-liked by those he has played with – the Mariners, Royals, Phillies and Yankees – and against.
After hitting his sixth home run into the right-field stands, Ibañez is still one of Hernandez’s favorite ex-teammates. He just didn’t like him quite as much for a few moments.
“One pitch, game over,” Hernandez said.
After six innings, it seemed that way. After nine, it was hard to argue, even though New York had tacked on two more against the Mariners’ bullpen.
“Maybe he wasn’t quite as sharp as we’ve seen Felix, but you have to remember, he was within a pitch in the sixth inning of taking a 2-1 lead into the seventh,” manager Eric Wedge said.
What beat the Mariners, Wedge said, were two innings filled with opportunity, none of them realized.
“One inning (the second), we had runners at first and second base, no one out; the other (the fifth), we had the bases loaded with one out, and we didn’t score either time,” Wedge said. “You get a run in each of those, different game.”
The Yankees wouldn’t argue.
In the second inning, the Mariners used a Kyle Seager single and walk to John Jaso to create a threat, but Kuroda retired Justin Smoak, Carp and Michael Saunders without allowing the runners to advance.
“I felt better tonight,” said Smoak, who had three hits. “But that first at-bat, I had a fastball over the plate, and I’ve got to do more with that.”
Again in the fifth, the Mariners rallied – singles by Smoak and Saunders, a walk to Ackley – this time with one out. Kuroda struck out Brendan Ryan, then got No. 3 hitter Ichiro Suzuki to ground into a force play at third base.
As a result, Hernandez had no margin to work with. After the sixth, he trailed 4-2, then was knocked flat on the mound by a Derek Jeter single up the middle.
“That was close,” Hernandez said, shaking his head. “I stayed down a minute on that one.”
It was Seattle’s seventh road loss in a row, and the trip gets no easier: two more against New York, then two in Boston, a pair in Cleveland and three in Colorado.