The Yankees have had their share of botched fly balls and bad calls go against them this year, but tonight they got to live on the other side. One play led to a big inning, while the other saved a potential one for the Mariners. When you’re as hot as the Yankees and a couple of things fall your way, the chances of a win are pretty damn good. Add in some solid pitching and it’s a 5-2 Yankees victory.
Sergio Mitre did what he was supposed to do by keeping the ball low. It resulted in seven hits, but none for extra bases. The only runs came as results of balls smashed into the ground. Ichiro hit a tough bouncer to Robinson Cano in the first, resulting in a two-base error. He came around to score on a ground out and a sac fly. Catcher Rob Johnson hit a high, high chopper in the fourth with a runner on third, plating the Mariner’s second and final run.
Through five there can be few if any complaints about Mitre. Even in the sixth he wasn’t horrible. After striking out Ken Griffey Jr. to start the frame, he gave up a first-pitch single to Russell Branyan, walked Jack Hannahan on four pitches, and allowed another infield single to Rob Johnson, one that the latter barely beat out. With the bases loaded and one man out, Joe Girardi felt his bullpen could better handle the task of escaping the inning.
On came David Robertson, who has been on something of a hot streak. After consecutive rough outings against the Angels and A’s, Robertson has pitched 9.2 innings, allowing two runs on seven hits and three walks, striking out 12. His 47 strikeouts in 33.1 innings overall is quite impressive as well. With the bases loaded and one out he struck out Josh Wilson on a 94 mph fastball up. Two down.
Robertson would be the beneficiary of the Yankees’ second fortuity of the evening. On a 3-2 count to Ryan Langerhans, Robertson unleashed another 94 mph fastball, this one headed toward Langerhans’s knees. It looked low, and Gameday agrees. But Jose Molina did a good job of framing it, which might or might not have influenced CB Bucknor’s call of strike three. The threat was over and the Yankees two-run lead was still intact.
The Yankees first fortuity of the evening came a bit earlier, back in the second. With Cano on first and one out, Melky Cabrera hit a fairly routine fly ball to center, ranging a bit toward right. Franklin Gutierrez, the M’s current center fielder, called off Ichiro, the M’s former center fielder, but it looked like the latter pulled up a little late, distracting the former and possibly causing him to drop the ball. No matter the reason, Cano and Melky booth stood on base for Jose Molina.
After working a 2-1 count, Molina jumped on a fastball up in the zone, slapping it to left and plating Cano. Derek Jeter then hit a fly ball deep enough to center to score Melky, and Nick Swisher followed it with a line drive into the seats in left that got out in a hurry. The Yanks wouldn’t score again until Jeter hit one out in the ninth, but the initial runs would hold up. Without the Gutierrez error, the Yankees might not have even scored that inning.
All three of these games against Seattle have been greatly enjoyable. It helps that they’ve won — I somehow doubt that Mariners fans feel the same way. Best of all, they got one with their No. 5 starter on the mound. They’ll bring out the big guns tomorrow with Joba Chamberlain making his final appearance for a little over a week. He’ll miss out on Oakland and Boston, so maybe he can make up for it by twirling a gem tomorrow. He’ll get his shot against Doug Fister tomorrow in a game that starts, mercifully, at 4 p.m.