SEATTLE A couple of familiar things happened Sunday as the New York Yankees nipped the Seattle Mariners, 2-1, before a season-high announced crowd of 43,389 at Safeco Field.
New York closer Mariano Rivera pitched a scoreless ninth inning to record his 23rd save of the season, the 631st of his career and his 37th against the Mariners.
Meanwhile, Seattle starter Felix Hernandez allowed one run over seven hits but got no decision. It was the 22nd time in Hernandezs career that he has gone at least seven innings, allowing one run or fewer, without a decision. Thats the most for any pitcher since Hernandezs major league debut in 2005.
He had to work early on to find it and kind of get into the groove, Mariners manager Eric Wedge said. But once he did, then he was much more efficient from then on. He did a great job. I cant say enough about what hes doing.
Hernandez struggled early, throwing 26 pitches in the first inning and giving up his lone run in the second.
Jayson Nix started the small rally with a single up the middle, stole second, was bunted over to third and came home on a single by Brett Gardner, who had four hits on the afternoon.
However, when Hernandez took the mound for the third inning, you almost could hear the click.
I was a little strong in the first two innings, he said. I was opening too quick. After that, I just tried to calm down and make my pitches.
The Mariners scored their run in the second, as Kelly Shoppach doubled and eventually came home on an infield single by Brendan Ryan.
After that, the Mariners couldnt scratch across anything else against New York starter David Phelps or the two relievers before Rivera.
Regardless of who Im pitching against, Im going to try to go out and put up as many zeroes as I can, Phelps said. It just so happens that if youre facing an ace, youve got to try to keep them in the game a little bit more. (Hernandez has) done it for so long, and hes done it so well, you know that a lot of times you might only get one run, so you go out and try to pitch your game and keep them off the board as much as possible.
As things turned out, New York (37-26) kept the Mariners (27-37) off the board the rest of the way. That allowed the Yankees to survive with just one more run of their own. That came in the ninth, when Ichiro Suzuki scored on a Chris Stewart single.
Among Seattles modest offensive highlights, Kyle Seager extended his hitting streak to 13 games, and Ryan recorded his third two-out RBI of the four-game series.
Ryan has at least one hit in 18 of his last 25 games and is batting .310 over the stretch.
However, none of that was enough to help the Mariners avoid their second consecutive loss to New York, or to cheer up Wedge.
When we do create opportunities, were not taking advantage of it, he said. Having said that, we have to create more opportunities because youre not going to come through every time. But weve got to do better than were doing right now. I know were beat up, were tired. I appreciate all that. But weve got to stick our nose in there and do a better job of fighting through ABs.
Seattles main postgame consolation came from confirmation that Hernandez emerged physically sound.
He walked off the mound in the seventh inning, drawing a visit from Wedge, trainer Rick Griffin and several teammates. However, he finished the inning, and Wedge explained that Hernandez got a little too amped up and had trouble catching his breath, but hes fine.
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