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July 25, 2012 at 6:37 PM

Same old story for the Mariners in loss to Yankees

(Ichiro waves to fans as he leaves the field Wednesday. Photo by Associated Press)
In their last two games in Tampa Bay last weekend, the Mariners scored two early runs in each of them, and made them stand up for 2-1 victories. They tried to do the same thing today, but found out it’s a little harder against the Yankees.
That 2-1 lead went up in smoke in the eighth, when the Yankees scored four runs. The big hit was Jayson Nix’s three-run double off Shawn Kelley. I’m sure many of you were wondering why Brandon League wasn’t used in the eighth. Eric Wedge said that Tom Wilhelmsen, who had pitched in four of the last five games, was unavailable today. So he was saving League to work the ninth for a possible save.

Instead, the Mariners started the eighth inning with Josh Kinney, who promptly hit Derek Jeter in the hip. (He was the fourth Yankee to be hit in the last two games, but there wasn’t any apparent retaliation by Yankees pitchers). Lucas Luetge (not Josh — 2011 flashback) took over and gave up two singles to load the bases with no outs before getting Curtis Granderson on a foul popup. But Nix got the better of Kelley on a 3-2 slider, and that pretty much was the ball game.
“I threw him a handful of sliders before,” Kelley said. “Bases loaded, you can’t walk him. I figured I’d threw my best pitch in the bottom of the zone. That’s my slider, and he got me. If you take a chance of bouncing it there and he lays off it, you walk in the tying run and that ain’t good. I went after him and it didn’t work out for me today.”
But really, the Mariners undoing was their inabilty to generate offense. They got two hits and two runs in the first inning, then didn’t get another hit until Casper Wells’ two-out single in the ninth inning — way too late, as Wedge recognized.
“We came out and I felt we did a good job being patient, selective, and pushed a few runs across early. But after that, really nothing happened. The few balls we did hit hard, those guys on the right side of their infield, you can’t get anything by them. They made some incredible defensive plays.
“It’s hard to ask your pitching staff to be able to hold those guys down for that many innings.. We almost squeezed by. But you just can’t play it that tight against a veteran offensive club like that. They really stepped up there in that eighth.”
Much of the hoopla in this series, of course, revolved around Ichiro’s trade to the Yankees. He went 1-for-5 in the leadoff role on Wednesday and finished the series 3-for-12. Wedge believes that the Mariners can now get down to the business of life after Ichiro.
“We’re moving forward. I think it’s another step now that these guys are leaving town. The focus is on these young kids playing baseball. And getting better. And understanding what it takes to win a game like that. In order to win that game, you’re going to have to separate. It’s going to be tough to expect to keep it at 2-1. You have to tack on another run or put together another inning where you score a couple, and it’s a completely different ballgame.”
Instead, it was the same old story. In losing two of three to the Yankees following a 5-2 road trip, they scored just seven runs and hit .136 (12-for-88) with three extra-base hits. In 47 home games, they have a .193 average and have scored 133 runs (2.8 per game).
It’s something they are going to have to conquer if they really want to move forward this season.



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