May 16, 2013 at 9:06 PM
I’ve been in Seattle quite a few years now and I’ve also covered plenty of playoff games at Yankee Stadium over the years, including the two fabled ALCS against Boston in 2003 and 2004 and numerous World Series here and at other places between 1998 and 2005.
And I’ve got to say, watching this game in this park tonight, it felt like a playoff game. I’m not the only one who thought so, either. I asked Brendan Ryan about it post-game.
“Absolutely, that’s what I was going to say,” Ryan told me, when he heard the word “playoff” mentioned. “I mean, every guy was in it. On the bench and on the field. That was playoff stuff right there. Everybody was ready to make a defensive play and our bullpen was coming in and executing pitches. That’s as fun as it gets there at the end with Tommy (Wilhelmsen) on the mound. I looked at Ack (Dustin Ackley) and I was like ‘This is awesome, this is truly awesome! This is good baseball here’.”
What gave the game its playoff feel was the way every pitch seemed to matter from about the fifth inning on. And every play, too, like Kendrys Morales diving to snag a Ryan throw in the seventh inning on an infield hit that scored one run. The tying run would have scored on the play as well had the ball gotten by Morales. But it didn’t and Carter Capps got the final out of that frame.
The Mariners would never yield again and the score stayed 3-2 until the final out was recorded.
“I don’t know if you get a Web Gem on something like that but that was the difference in the game,” Ryan said. “I don’t think I could bear hug him strong enough, It’s hard to get my arms around him but I mean, that was one heck of a play.”
The pitching down the stretch, in high-leverage, high-stress moments was just remarkable.
You had Oliver Perez getting out of that jam in the fifth with runners at the corners and one out. Perez struck out three more guys and was credited with the win.
“I think we’re doing a pretty good job,’’ Perez said of the bullpen. “We’re like a family right there. We support each other, we have fun. It’s a long season and we treat everybody like family because sometimes we spend more time together than we do with our families.’’
May 16, 2013 at 7:35 PM
Now that’s the type of game the Mariners will be thrilled to prevail in and the kind of series that can be a real confidence-builder for this team.
The Mariners held on to win 3-2 tonight in a game that saw both sides throw some serious pitching at one another, especially in the late going. For Seattle, this first series win in New York since 2010 gives them a 5-0-1 mark in series since that disastrous road trip to Texas and leaves them just one game under .500.
Michael Morse was the difference tonight with his 10th home run of the season — a solo shot in the sixth off Shawn Kelley — giving the Mariners a cushion they really needed late. Morse becomes the first Mariners player to reach double figures for home runs, something that didn’t happen for this team until June 2 of last year when Justin Smoak hit his 10th.
But tonight’s win was all about the bullpen, from the spot start by Hector Noesi to the relief work that came after.
Oliver Perez gets the win after logging three more strikeouts and pitching out of a key jam in the fifth with runners at the corners and only one out. You know Perez has to be happy with this victory, coming as it did in New York — a city that became a personal hell for him while he toiled with the Mets a couple of years back. (more…)
May 16, 2013 at 4:05 PM
What a nailbiter this one is turning into as the Yankees scored a run in the seventh to cut Seattle’s lead to 3-2. Yoervis Medina gave up a single and a walk to start the inning, then, after a strikeout and a groundout, Robinson Cano came up with runners on second and third. Lucas Luetge came on to pitch and got the grounder he was looking for. But shortstop Brendan Ryan really had to range for it and his throw was offline. The play was ruled a hit and first baseman Kendrys Morales did a great job of keeping the ball from bouncing any further away as just the lone run scored.
Carter Capps came on and got Vernon Wells to pop out to end the inning. The Mariners could really use another run. Three doesn’t seem like it will be enough.
5:58 p.m.: Shawn Kelley keeps striking guys out — he now has all four outs tonight via the “K” — but Michael Morse tagged him for a leadoff solo homer over the center field wall in the top of the sixth to give the Mariners a 3-1 lead. The homer was the 10th by Morse and the 27th by a Mariners outfielder this season, leading all of baseball.
Oliver Perez replaced Hector Noesi in the bottom of the fifth and did some stellar work to escape a jam with runners at the corners and one out. First, Perez struck out Brett Gardner, then he got Jayson Nix to pop out and preserve a one-run lead.
That lead is now two runs and the Mariners have Perez largely to thank.
5:42 p.m.: Andy Pettitte just left the game after striking out the first two batters in the fifth inning. No word on an injury. This could be a huge break for the Mariners because Pettitte seemed to be getting into a groove. Then again, he’s been replaced by ex-Mariners reliever Shawn Kelley, who has 25 strikeouts in just 15 innings already this season.
5:10 p.m.: The Mariners loaded the bases with one out in the fourth and managed to get one run home on a two-out infield single by Brendan Ryan. So, it’s a 2-1 game, the Mariners leading. But this is starting to remind me of the series opener a bit. Seattle is by far getting the better chances in this game, but not doing a whole lot with them as this could be a much bigger lead by now.
May 16, 2013 at 3:11 PM
Raul Ibanez will be back in the lineup tonight despite the presence of left-handed starter Andy Pettitte on the mound for the New York Yankees. Ibanez has three home runs his last two games, nine homers in his last 11 games at Yankee Stadium and is now a career .283 hitter at the new Yankee Stadium with 19 homers, 50 RBI and a .953 OPS in 75 games.
That means Justin Smoak will sit out tonight’s game as Ibanez assumes the DH role.
“I wanted to play them all,” Mariners manager Eric Wedge said. “But I couldn’t do it. It’s just so we can keep Raul in there.”
Wedge has a lot on his mind today, with Aaron Harang a late scratch and Hector Noesi now starting. The Mariners could have started Brandon Maurer on his normal rest, but Wedge said he “didn’t think that was fair to him” at this stage of his career, given the change of day, opponent and venue involved.
As for Noesi, Wedge said he has to keep doing what’s made his successful as a long reliever so far.
“When he’s aggressive and aggressive on the plate with all his pitches, then it plays for him,” Wedge said. “When he picks a bit, or tries to guide the ball, that’s when he gets into trouble. Because you fall behind, have to come in and then it doesn’t matter what you’re throwing.
“But when he goes out there and really gets after it, that’s when he’s effective.”
May 16, 2013 at 1:56 PM
Aaron Harang began feeling some lower back stiffness yesterday and by today, it had not gone away. As a result, he’s been scratched from tonight’s scheduled start here in New York and Hector Noesi will take his place.
Noesi, as you may recall, used to pitch for the Yankees before coming over with Jesus Montero in the Michael Pineda deal. Last May, in a May 12 start here against the Yanks, he gave up four runs the first two innings and was down 5-0 by the fourth in taking the loss. That game saw Noesi make it through seven frames without allowing any further runs in what some pointed to as a moral victory of sorts for him.
Turned out, any victory was short-lived. Noesi continued a pattern of getting lit up early and often and was eventually Class AAA-bound. He was in AA this year before the Mariners needed a long reliever and his outings to-date have actually been better than many expected.
So, tonight, a key might be Noesi survivng the first couple of innings.
As for Harang, he’s had these back issues crop up a couple of times over the years.
“Just from it getting out of allignment,” he said. “I’ve had regular chiropractor treatments. Just with all the flying, you’re on the plane and sitting– I’ve got my legs spread out and can’t put them straight forward because of how long my legs are — it’s just the little stuff I’ve got to keep doing. Obviously, with the last long trip and then a couple of days at home and we turn around and go on another long trip. Changing hotels…I spent the whole first month of the season in a hotel pretty much too. It’s just been hard to stay on that stuff.”
May 16, 2013 at 9:56 AM
We’ve seen Raul Ibanez hit three home runs in two games at Yankee Stadium after Mariners manager Eric Wedge openly stated that his outfielder’s prior success at this ballpark was one of the reasons he’d see game action. Another reason given for Ibanez starting on Tuesday night against left-handed pitcher C.C. Sabathia was his track record of success against the southpaw.
But when Ibanez lived up to those expectations — taking Sabathia deep on Tuesday and then popping two more homers on Wednesday — the results were dismissed as “lucky” and a “fluke” by some of my readers on Twitter. When I tried to explain to them that Wedge was playing a hunch in giving Ibanez the rare lefty-on-lefty start against Sabathia and had it pay off, one reader expressed horror that an MLB manager would conduct himself that way.
The reader, it seemed, was shocked at the discovery that MLB managers allow hunches to dictate many of their in-game and pre-game decisions. In fact, I’ll put forward — as I did last night on Twitter — that managers at this level are paid for their expertise and with that expert knowledge comes the ability to make educated guesses that will often exceed the thought process of the average fan. Or even the above average, self-professed thinking fan.
For me, this might represent one of the biggest disconnects I see between some who favor a more stats-oriented approach to baseball versus what those who work in the sport actually deal with on a daily basis. It’s right up there along with a failure by some fans and analysts to grasp the nuances of full-time players versus part-time players, or realistic, true-life “sample sizes” versus the ideal theoretical ones that play out over hundreds, even thousands of at-bats.
May 15, 2013 at 8:42 PM
Raul Ibanez was asked post-game about his performance at Yankee Stadium last year and now, in the first two games here this season. Ibanez hit two more homers tonight in a 12-2 win by the Mariners and now has three in the two games so far. He also has hit nine in his last 11 games at this park dating back to last season, including the playoffs.
His play here is one of the reasons Eric Wedge put him in the lineup last night against left-handed starter C.C. Sabathia, although Ibanez’s career numbers versus the southpaw had much to do with it as well. But asked about the park afterwards, Ibanez still would not submit to the obvious.
“I’ve been feeling better at the plate coming into this series,’’ Ibanez said. “I try not to make too much of it. I try to grind out every at-bat. I think I’ve been feeling better late at the plate and it’s carried over.’’
So, um, it’s not the park?
“I try not to think about it too much,” he said. “It’s too much information for me, personally, to think about. They’re all valid questions. I just don’t really have an answer.”
In Ibanez’s defense, his two homers tonight went to right-center and to left field. So, it wasn’t the short porch coming into play this time.
Ibanez says he’ll never forget his late-season heroics for the Yankees last year, with season-saving homers in September and then the two big ones in Game 3 of the AL Division Series against Baltimore. But the fans here might have forgotten a bit.
They’d greeted Ibanez with the familiar “Rauuullllll!” seranding at the game’s start and last night as well. But after the second home run he hit tonight, those were boos mixed in to the cheers.
“It sounds the same,’’ Ibanez said, with a slight grin. “I don’t want to say that because I don’t want it to get louder.’’
May 15, 2013 at 6:57 PM
The Bronx Bombers were running for some shelter underground in the first inning and never really found it as the Mariners pounded them throughout in a 12-2 victory.
Hisashi Iwakuma won’t have it much easier than that. The first of two homers by Raul Ibanez, a grand slam in the first off Phil Hughes, helped Seattle to a 7-0 lead and the Mariners never looked back.
Iwakuma went seven innings, allowed a pair of solo homers and improved to 5-1 on the season.
Ibanez later added a two-run blast for his third homer in two nights here. Kyle Seager had a three-run homer as well.
When Brendan Ryan legged out an infield single in the ninth, every Mariners starter had at least one hit. The Mariners hadn’t done that since just under a year ago in Texas during a 21-8 rout of the Rangers.
May 15, 2013 at 3:55 PM
Kyle Seager just continued the Seattle onslaught with a three-run homer to right-center in the sixth inning, giving the Mariners 12-2 lead. A slight correction from earlier: the seven-run first inning by the Mariners was the most they’ve ever scored on the road against the Yankees in a first inning. They had nine runs off them in the first inning of a 1979 home game at the Kingdome.
5:45 p.m.: While some fans continue to gnash their teeth over Raul Ibanez, he just popped his second home run of the game and third in two nights to give Seattle a 9-2 lead here in the bottom of the fifth. Chris Stewart just got the Yankees a run on a solo homer this frame off Hisashi Iwakuma, but it’s a bit late for the home side.
As for Ibanez, the decision to use him in this series looks good on the Mariners so far. As for those calling it “lucky” or whatever, it’s not sound argumentation to deride every managerial decision when it goes bad and then dismiss it all as “luck” when the choices turn out as planned. That kind of nonsense has been allowed to permeate internet debate for far too long. Those who make a stats-based argument that doesn’t pan out will still attempt to justify it by saying the “process” was sound, or that the “sample size” is too small to be conclusive, or that those pointing out the flawed logic are making a “strawman” case.
Believe me, we in the media have seen it all, know all the default catchphrases and know enough never to question anybody who makes an argument based on stats and process. All I’ll say — and continue to say — is that each MLB game is approached by each team and each manager in increasingly small samples as the pressure to win gets ratcheted up.
If the Mariners felt they had a better shot at winning tonight, or last night, with Ibanez in the lineup and he delivers, you can’t just dismiss it as a fluke simply because you don’t feel that move would keep panning out over a 162-game, or 300-game sample size.
That’s not how real life works. These players are human beings and the managers in charge manage them likewise. They don’t take a computer program that spits out every managerial decision ahead of time. You can’t manage like a robot when you’re in charge of a team at this high a level. The teams pay these managers for their expertise and their hunches. Not to do the same thing every armchair manager sitting at a computer terminal would have them do.
So, when a hunch pays off, we give them their due. Because when too many of their hunches don’t pay off, they get fired. That’s how it works in real life.
May 15, 2013 at 3:00 PM
We’ve seen Michael Morse collect five hits in his first two games since being pushed back from the No. 4 spot in the order to No. 5. So, was the move a stroke of genius? Or maybe Morse used a different brand of detergent on his game jersey? Point is, it’s too soon to tell. You can’t base anything off two games and Morse is not about to.
The one thing Morse does say, however, is that his torrid start — when he clubbed six homers the first week of the season — might not have been the best thing for him. I brought this up in my Talkin’ Baseball segment on Monday with Mitch Levy on Sports Radio KJR. The point that perhaps Morse had so much early success that he began swinging for the fences every time up.
“I’ve never started out hot,” Morse said. “And when I don’t start out hot, it helps me. It keeps me humble. Keeps me down.”
Morse says he needs to be kept humble from time to time.
Lately, he added, he’s been swinging at too many bad pitches that are extremely difficult to do anything with.
“I’ve got to stop swinging at balls in the dirt,” he said. “You don’t swing at the ball that’s on the ground rolling.”
Morse says he probably got into that habit because “I felt like I could hit everything.”