This was almost a lucky game.
After a quick, one-home run-two-three inning by Hisashi Iwakuma, the Mariners piled on Ivan Nova’s 1.41 WHIP with 2 singles, 3 walks, and an RBI forceout. Through 7 innings, they led 2-1 on just 2 hits.
Of course, you can’t expect to win a one-run, two-hit ballgame against the Yankees. Not in a non-Felix start. Not with the fences drawn a mile back. Not with Ichiro putting on a show for his last appearance in Safeco Field this season.
Iwakuma exited in the 6th with a line of 6 H, 3 BB, 1 ER, and 3 SO in 5 IP. It still feels strange to profile him as a starter, even after his 4 starts in the past 3 weeks. In this series, he logged the fewest earned runs by a starter, but extended his home run streak to 7 consecutive appearances.
By the 8th, the Yankees’ frustrated attempts to get on base were rewarded by Wedge’s decision to keep Josh Kinney in the game. Kinney made it through the 7th with a pristine two strikeouts and a pop-up by Ichiro that looked to be his last AB in Seattle. The game looked impossibly winnable.
When he reemerged from the ‘pen the next inning, however, Kinney struck Jeter squarely on the thigh with a 89 MPH sinker. From there, Wedge spun the carousel of relievers with even worse results. Lucas Luetge was quickly brought in, and quickly apologized to the Yankees with a pair of base hits. Shawn Kelley finished off the inning, sending Jayson Nix a 3-RBI double and Russell Martin an RBI single. Ichiro got a chance to redeem his final AB with two men on… and grounded out to third.
One lone hit, three relievers, and four swinging strikeouts later, the Yankees took the series 2-1 on a Carlos Peguero strikeout. As Ichiro departs for New York and the Mariners prepare to host Kansas City this weekend, it will be interesting to watch the situation play out in right field with Peguero, Wells, and Robinson vying for playing time. As for the emotional state of the team, you only had to witness the delight on Kawasaki’s face after putting the tag on Ichiro to know that they’re going to be just fine.
Next game: vs. Royals | July 26 | 7:10pm