A word or two from Edgar Martinez about hitting is never a bad thing in any situation.
Yonder Alonso was about to face hard-throwing Yankees reliever Aroldis Chapman in a tie game Friday night with two outs in the 11th inning.
“I was talking to Edgar earlier when I was on deck,” Alonso said, “and he told me to just relax. Just let my legs work. And just try to touch it. Use my eyes and hopefully get a strike. Just hit it right up the middle.”
Alonso touched a 100-mph fastball from Chapman and sent it right up the middle and over the center-field wall for a homer that boosted the Mariners to a 2-1 victory at Yankee Stadium.
“He’s one of the best,” Alonso said. “He’s got such an overpowering fastball and an overpowering slider, you’re just hoping that, No. 1, you don’t get hit, and No. 2, you hopefully get a strike. And you just try to touch it.”
Edwin Diaz closed out the victory by stranding Brett Gardner at second base later in the inning for his 30th save. The victory went to lefty James Pazos, a Yankees castoff, who pitched a one-two-three 10th inning.
The victory boosted the Mariners to 66-63 and kept them one-half game behind Minnesota in the race for the American League’s final wild-card spot. It also pulled them to within three games of New York for the top wild-card berth.
Lefty Ariel Miranda held the Yankees scoreless and yielded just two hits but lasted just 4-2/3 innings because he walked four, hit a batter and worked a lot of deep counts.
The Mariners led 1-0 when Emilio Pagan replaced Miranda with two outs and a runner on second in the fifth inning. Pagan held the lead by retiring Aaron Judge, the AL home run leader, on a fly to center.
The bullpen nursed that lead — provided by Mike Zunino on a homer in the fourth inning against Yankees starter CC Sabathia — into the eighth before David Phelps’ shaky command and an error permitted New York to pull even.
It stayed 1-1 until Alonso turned Edgar’s tip into the winning run.
“Lucky for me,” Alonso said, “I got lucky.”
Tough when it matters: Miranda escaped bases-loaded jams in third and fourth innings, and Nick Vincent escaped an inherited bases-loaded jam in the eighth inning.
Overall, the Mariners made pitches when it mattered most. The Yankees were 0-for-12 with runners in scoring position and left 13 runners on base.
Valencia’s slump deepens: The flip side of the Aug. 6 move to acquire Alonso from Oakland is Danny Valencia. The trade not only turned Valencia into a part-time player, it also sent him into an extended slump.
Valencia was hitless in five at-bats Friday and is batting .167 (5-for-30) in 10 games since Alonso joined the club.
A notable strikeout: It was a big plus that Robinson Cano entered the game as a pinch-hitter with the bases loaded and two outs in the ninth inning even though he struck out on three pitches against Yankees reliever Dellin Betances.
Cano then remained in the game for the final three defensive innings at second base — easing any concerns that surfaced after he exited Wednesday’s game in Atlanta because a injured left hamstring.
A magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) exam Thursday showed only a minor inflammation in Cano’s hamstring. He is expected to be in the starting lineup Saturday when the series continues at Yankee Stadium.
Bob Dutton: @TNT_Mariners