Felix Hernandez left the game after six innings, we presume because of whatever leg pain he experienced as a result of that collision with Lyle Overbay back in the fourth. And the bullpen coughed up the two-run lead right away and the Mariners now trail 4-3 as Yoervis Medina gave up a bloop single to lead things off and then Charlie Furbush came on and yielded a walk and a tying double to Robinson Cano.
Now, I know a couple of two-strike pitches by Furbush didn’t go his way, but that’s baseball. Ultimately, you can’t be walking people ahead of Cano and not all four balls in the prior plate appearance should have been called strikes. Furbush later walked a batter intentionally, then walked Curtis Granderson to load the bases.
That last walk was huge as Overbay stepped up, worked the count full and lined a sac fly to center to give New York its first lead of the night.
Again, Furbush didn’t get some calls from the ump when needed. But he also didn’t execute pitches when he had to and that’s what got him in all the walk trouble in the first place. He had Overbay down in the count and allowed him to work it back in his favor by bouncing some balls in or near the dirt. The Mariners needed more right there, didn’t get it and trail as a result.
5:55 p.m.: The Yankees got one back in the bottom of the sixth to cut the Mariners’ lead to 3-1. Felix Hernandez gave up a leadoff single to Robinson Cano and then a two-out double to right by Lyle Overbay. At first, it looked like the ball would bounce over the right field wall for a ground-rule double that would have halted the runner at third.
But the ball actually struck the top of the wall and bounced back on to the field of play. Tough break for Hernandez, who just before the double seemed to be experiencing leg pain after a fielding play. Remember, he collided with Overbay at first base back in the fifth inning and had his leg clipped in the process. We’ll keep an eye on that.
5:55 p.m.: Well, if you were paying attention to the pre-game blog posts, you know that Mariners manager Eric Wedge now looks like a genius for putting Raul Ibanez in the lineup against C.C. Sabathia. Wedge said he did it based on Ibanez’s track record against Sabathia, as well as his success here at Yankee Stadium. Ibanez just showed why by lining a Sabathia pitch over the short porch in right field for a two-run homer to give the Mariners a 3-0 lead here in the sixth inning.
This is what managers get paid to do. If they all managed according to what the computer spat out every morning, we’d have a bunch of tie games played every night, all season long. The job involves hunches and guesswork and trying to outthink and outsmart the guy opposite you in the dugout. Tonight, Wedge played a hunch with Ibanez — going lefty on lefty — and it just paid off big.
5:40 p.m.: Felix Hernandez just pitched out of a two on, one out jam in the fourth and still leads 1-0 despite a bizarre “obstruction” call that went against him that frame.
With one on and one out, Robert Andino fielded a grounder deep in the hole in shallow right field and made a last-second throw to first base. The throw was taken by Kendrys Morales but Hernandez had also gotten to the bag to cover and was a bit fooled by a pump fake to second Andino made before heaving the ball to first.
Morales caught the ball for the out several feet before a slow chugging (his normal speed) Lyle Overbay arrived at the bag. Hernandez was standing right in Overbay’s way as he arrived and got clipped on the right leg as he tried to dance out of the way.
After long discussion and some arguing by the Yankees, the umpires agreed to call obstruction. Mariners manager Eric Wedge went apoplectic at that point, arguing — we assume — that Overbay was nowhere near reaching first base before the out was made. Now, obstruction is a judgement call and I suppose the umps could argue that Overbay might have reached first safely had Hernandez not forced him to slow up by being in his way. You could make that argument — I won’t. Common sense has to take over here. Overbay was out by the proverbial Centralia mile. He has no fifth gear to kick it into. He was running his equivalent of an all-out sprint and even had he been forced to slow a half-step because of Hernandez being at the bag, he still would have been out by a dozen or more half-steps.
Brutal call. They leave it up to the umpire’s discretion because they are supposed to utilize that discretion within the realm of good sense. I’m not seeing any here.
For the record, here is the pertinent part of rule 7.06 as it applies to obstruction:
When obstruction occurs, the umpire shall call or signal “Obstruction.”
If a play is being made on the obstructed runner, or if the batterrunner is obstructed before he touches first base, the ball is dead and all runners shall advance, without liability to be put out, to the bases they would have reached, in the umpires judgment, if there had been no obstruction. The obstructed runner shall be awarded at least one base beyond the base he had last legally touched before the obstruction. Any preceding runners, forced to advance by the award of bases as the penalty for obstruction, shall advance without liability to be put out.
4:49 p.m.: The Mariners just opened the scoring with an unearned run in the third inning. Michael Saunders reached first on a one-out error by Lyle Overbay, who bobbled his ground ball. Kyle Seager delivered a two-out double to right center and the Mariners have a 1-0 lead for Felix Hernandez, who has notched six straight outs after letting the first two hitters he faced reach base.
4:37 p.m.: Both teams have squandered some early chances and we’re scoreless after two innings. The Mariners got two on with two out in the second as Michael Morse doubled and Raul Ibanez legged out an infield hit by beating a slow-moving C.C. Sabathia to the first base bag. But Robert Andino took a called third strike (yes, believe it or not, he did) and the rally fizzled.
The Yankees put two on with none out against Felix Hernandez in the first. But then Vernon Wells flied out to right and Curtis Granderson grounded into a 6-6-3 double play.
3:55 p.m.: Can’t ask for a much better pitching matchup than tonight as Felix Hernandez takes on C.C. Sabathia at Yankee Stadium. The Mariners are going with a very matchup-focused lineup against Sabathia, hoping that the track records of hitters like Raul Ibanez, Robert Andino and Brendan Ryan in facing the southpaw can outweigh their recent sub-.200 hitting production.
As for Hernandez, he’s owned the Yankees for most of his career. Hernandez is 8-5 with a 3.08 lifetime ERA in 14 games against the Yanks. Here at Yankee Stadium, he’s 5-2 with a 2.06 ERA in seven career starts.
The Yankees finally have Curtis Granderson in the lineup tonight, making his season debut after fracturing his wrist in spring training nearly three months ago.
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