Rapid Reaction: Yankees 6, Mariners 3
June, 13, 2014
By Wallace Matthews | ESPNNewYork.com
SEATTLE -- The last time the Yankees pulled off a sweep in Seattle, the manager's name was Torre, the catcher's name was Girardi and the shortstop's name was -- well, you already know.
That was 15 years ago, a long time between sweeps and, in the eyes of the Yankees, something that was long overdue.
Well, the wait is over. Thursday's 6-2 win over the Mariners completed the Yankees' first sweep here since August 1999, and they did it with a rookie pitcher who wasn't even a starter until a month ago and an offense that has been missing in action. Now, on to Oakland!
Who are these people?: The Yankees had not scored more than four runs in a game all June. In fact, the last time they did was May 28, when they beat the St. Louis Cardinals 7-4 in St. Louis, but facing a pitcher (Roenis Elias) who had stifled them at Yankee Stadium six weeks ago, the bats came to life early, scoring two runs each in three of the first four innings.
High-speed Chase: In his best big league performance to date, Chase Whitley worked quickly and efficiently, needing just 82 pitches to get 23 outs. Manager Joe Girardi inexplicably pulled him with two outs and no one on in the eighth. Whitley allowed two runs on five hits, one a solo homer by Logan Morrison in the second -- the first home run Whitley had allowed all season in the majors or minors -- walked none, struck out six and retired the last nine hitters he faced. Whitley has not walked a batter in his past four starts, a stretch of 114 batters.
Jeter en fuego: Suddenly, Derek Jeter is red-hot at the plate, singling in each of his first three at-bats Thursday, the last a two-run single in the fourth that gave the Yankees a 6-1 lead. Jeter is 8-for-20 on the road trip (.400) and has 10 hits in his past 28 at-bats (.357). Jeter was also 7-for-12 (.583) with four runs in this road series, his last trip to Seattle -- where his big league career started in 1995. Maybe it's the coffee; he's a big Starbucks guy.
Jacoby Jack: The Yankees jumped out to a 2-0, first-inning lead when Jacoby Ellsbury drove an Elias fastball into the right-field seats with Jeter aboard. It was Ellsbury's fourth home run of the season and extended his hitting streak to 16 games.
Larceny: Ellsbury leaped high to take an extra-base hit away from Robinson Cano -- and a run away from the Mariners -- in the fifth inning, snagging Cano's long drive that was hit almost to the identical area of the park as his home run off Masahiro Tanaka Wednesday night a step or two in front of the fence with a runner on first to end the inning.
Hip check: Ellsbury -- who was spied with a large ice pack on his left knee after Wednesday night's game -- was removed in the seventh inning and replaced in center by Brett Gardner, who moved over from left. It was announced that Ellsbury left the game with right hip tightness, an injury he first suffered last weekend in Kansas City, Missouri.
Faked you out!: Just moments after entering the game, Gardner deked everyone in the park -- especially the Mariners' Mike Zunino -- by leaping up against the center-field wall but not immediately acting as if he had made the catch. Zunino went into his home run trot but had to turn back to the dugout when Gardner suddenly produced the ball as the crowd groaned.
Welcome back, Sori: The slumping Alfonso Soriano, who had not played since Saturday against the Royals, celebrated his return to the lineup with a double that was absolutely scorched into the left-field gap, scoring Jeter (single) and Ellsbury (walk) to give the Yankees a 4-1 lead in the third.
Fond farewell?: If it's true, as Girardi hinted, that John Ryan Murphy might soon be headed back to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre so that Francisco Cervelli can be reinstated, Murphy made the most of what might have been his last Yankees start for awhile. The catcher formerly known as "JR" had two hits -- a single and a double -- and scored a run. Overall, he is hitting .310 with one home run and eight RBIs.
Kelley's back: but is his back OK? In his first outing since going on the DL with a lumbar spine strain on May 7, Shawn Kelley faced three hitters in the ninth, and all three hit the ball hard. Stefen Romero sent Ichiro Suzuki to the wall for a leaping catch to start the inning, and, after Dustin Ackley and Morrison smacked back-to-back doubles -- accounting for Seattle's third run -- Girardi pulled Kelley and had to go to David Robertson, who struck out the last two batters he faced to earn his 16th save.
Tomorrow: Game 1 of a three-game series against the Athletics in Oakland, California.
Pitching matchups for the weekend series: David Phelps (1-4, 4.88 ERA) versus RHP Sonny Gray (6-2, 2.83) on Friday, Hiroki Kuroda (4-4, 4.12) versus LHP Scott Kazmir (7-2, 2.20) on Saturday and Vidal Nuno (1-2, 4.97) versus RHP Jesse Chavez (5-4, 3.04) on Sunday. The first two games are at 10:05 p.m., and the finale is at 4:05 p.m.