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July 24, 2012 at 6:48 PM

Game thread: Mariners vs. Yankees, July 24: Mariners win, 4-2

Tom Wilhelmsen strikes out two in a 1-2-3 ninth for his 11th save. A very nice victory for the Mariners, who turned back the Yankees numerous times.
MARINERS EIGHTH: Mariners push across big insurance run as Girardi decides to manage, using five pitchers. After three walks, the bases were loaded with two outs when Seager, on an “excuse me” check swing, dribbled a ball off his fists up the third base line. Jayson Nix, in for A-Rod, had no play as Ackley scored (pinch-runner Chone Figgins beat Nix to the bag. Had Montero still been in, he probably wouldn’t have made it, so astute move for Wedge. 4-2 Mariners, Wilhelmsen coming in.,
YANKEES EIGHTH: Luetge skirts out of danger by striking out Ibanez with two aboard after the Yankees push across a run to cut Seattle’s lead to 3-2. Hernandez left after hitting Jeter and A-Rod (who had to leave the game; he was hit on his left hand). Bizarrely, Hernandez hit three in a five-batter stretch. And Luetge lowbridged Ibanez before striking him out. You have to wonder if the Yankees will retaliate in any way.
MARINERS SEVENTH: Garcia has retired 14 in a row, but Hernandez still protecting a 3-1 lead as he goes out for eighth.
MARINERS FIFTH: Quick 1-2-3 inning for Garcia.
YANKEES FIFTH: Some nifty damage control by Hernandez tonight. Ichiro led off with a double (under the glove of Mike Carp, who probably should have made the play. Chris Stewart flied out, and Derek Jeter grounded to short, with Ichiro advancing to third (though Ryan probably could have thrown him out). Hernandez then struck out Granderson, who had homered in the first for the Yankees’ only run. 3-1 Mariners.
YANKEES FOURTH: After the Mariners scored two in the bottom of the third (RBI single by Montero, sac fly by Jaso), Hernandez did some fancy pitching to get out of a first and third, no-out jam. He got Cano on a looper to third, then after walking Teixeira to load the bases, struck out Ibanez (his first K) and got Chavez on a fly to center. But Hernandez is at 64 pitches. M’s lead, 3-1.
MARINERS 2ND: Freddy Garcia gives up leadoff single to Seager in2nd, then strikes out Wells, Carp and Peguero. He’s fanned four through two.1-1
YANKEES 2ND: (Sorry I missed the first inning — I was finishing some work. HR by Granderson, HR by Saunders. There. You’re caught up). Saunders is already having a great night — after his first-inning homer, he made a great leaping grab at the wall to rob Mark Teixeira of extra bases — maybe even a homer. The last out of the inning was a shot up the middle off Hernandez’s body by Eric Chavez. Felix threw him out, and didn’t appear to be hurt, but we’ll see. The ball went off his mid-section. 1-1.
The Mike Carp era is renewed tonight. The pitching matchup is great — Felix Hernandez against the player he calls his idol, Freddy Garcia, the former Mariner once acquired in a trade for Randy Johnson, who will go into the Mariners Hall of Fame on Saturday. Got all that?
Felix is 4-0 with a 1.38 ERA and 59 strikeouts over 53 innings in his last seven starts. The Mariners point out that he has the highest strikeout rate of his career this season at 9.1 per nine innings. So much for lack of velocity. His strikeout rate has gone up in each of the last four seasons from 7.8 in 2008, 8.2 in 2009, 8.4 in 2010, 8.6 in 2011, and 9.1 this year. His walk rate (2.3 per 9.0 IP) is also the lowest of his career, as are his pitches per inning pitched (14.7). All those stats paint the picture of a pitcher who is getting better, more economical, more efficient, and more lethal. All good things.

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