They couldn't have been more wrong. Now, the Mariners leave New York with a sweep of this rain-shortened, two-game series after Thursday's 4-2 victory, and the Yankees have the Tampa Bay Rays, always a joy to face, to look forward to this weekend.
Elias K bureau: Rookie left-hander Roenis Elias, making only his sixth big-league start, gave up a leadoff home run to Jacoby Ellsbury -- and then stifled the Yankees for the next seven innings, giving up only one more run (unearned) and five other hits, striking out 10 and walking only one.
Anti-Hiro: Hiroki Kuroda was better than in his last start, when he gave up eight runs (six earned) in less than five innings to the Angels. But still, he was ineffective for the first four innings, giving up four runs (three earned) and seven hits before settling down in the fifth to retire the last seven batters he faced. At times, Kuroda's stuff appeared to lack life, which will be a problem with the rotation already depleted by injury and CC Sabathia's inconsistency. Kuroda's ERA through six starts is 5.14.
Wouldn't ya know?: Robinson Cano was booed -- again -- before his first at-bat, and gave the crowd a real reason to boo him on the first pitch he saw from Kuroda, lining it into the right-field corner for an RBI double. Two innings later, Cano knocked in the Mariners' second run (unearned, because of a Derek Jeter error) on a force out to give Seattle a 2-1 lead.
Shaky fourth: Kuroda gave up two more runs, on three hits and a walk, in the fourth inning, and it could have been worse had Michael Saunders' drive over Brett Gardner's head not bounced over the left-field fence, depriving the Mariners of a third run. Still, Seattle took a 4-1 lead, and New York was seemingly one out from replacing Kuroda with Matt Thornton, who was warming up quickly to face Cano, on deck when the last out was made.
Killing them softly: Cano did nothing spectacular in his two-game homecoming, and yet he leaves having knocked in three runs -- two big ones Thursday and the first one on Tuesday -- scoring another, and even stealing a base. He also made one strange decision, choosing a backhand flip for a forceout at second on Mark Teixeira's routine grounder in the sixth. Shortstop Brad Miller wasn't covering and everyone was safe, a play that backfired when Brian McCann singled in the Yankees' second run of the game. But ultimately, it meant nothing.
Jack Ellsbury: After getting three days off because of a sore left hand, Ellsbury declared himself fully recovered by lining a 2-1, first-inning pitch from Elias into the lower right-field seats to tie the score at 1-1. The home run accomplished several firsts -- it was Ellsbury's first HR as a Yankee, his first HR at Yankee Stadium since Sept. 25, 2011, and the Yankees' first leadoff home run since Jeter jacked one on Aug. 21, 2012.
What's next: The Yankees play a three-game weekend series with the Tampa Bay Rays before heading off for a six-game trip to Anaheim and Milwaukee.
Pitching matchups for the Rays series:
Sunday at 1:05 p.m.: CC Sabathia (3-3, 5.11) vs. LHP Erik Bedard (0-1, 5.52)