Thursday, July 28, 2011
Mariners use 17 hits to end 17-game losing streak
NEW YORK -- Dustin Ackley spoke of an eagerly awaited cross-country trip home to Seattle as the lyrics, "It's OK. I know nothing's wrong, nothing," from a Talking Heads song blared in the Mariners clubhouse.
Brendan Ryan talked about the laughs he and his teammates would share later Wednesday.
Felix Hernandez smiled as he recalled staying in the dugout for the full nine innings for the first time this season.
Wow, what a difference one win makes -- especially one that ended a team-record, 17-game skid.
Ackley and Ichiro Suzuki led the Mariners in a season-high 17-hit barrage, and Seattle beat and beat up the New York Yankees 9-2 on Wednesday.
"If we had a loss today and had to travel home on that long flight and had the off day to think about it, it would have been pretty bad," Ackley said. "I think now everyone is going to relax a little bit."
After 21 days of frustration, the Mariners were ready to move on.
Hernandez pitched seven innings for his third straight win in the Bronx. Suzuki had four hits and scored two runs. Ackley tripled among his three hits and drove in three runs for the Mariners, who did something they failed to accomplish during the skid: they turned an opponent's mistake into a big inning.
Seattle scored five runs in the seventh inning -- highlighted by Mike Carp's bases-loaded triple -- after Robinson Cano flubbed a flip to Derek Jeter at second base for an error.
The Mariners added two more in the ninth when Adam Kennedy hit an RBI double that center fielder Curtis Granderson lost in the sun, then scored on Carp's single to give Seattle its most runs since it scored nine in a win against Tampa Bay on June 5.
"These guys haven't felt good in a long time," manager Eric Wedge said. "We've got a long flight, an off day (Thursday) and this is a real big win for us. When you've got a monkey on your back that size, it's damn hard to get it off."
After a win on July 5, the Mariners were 43-43 and 2½ games back in the AL West, a pleasant early season surprise. But it all fell apart in a hurry. They are 44-60 14½ games behind the Texas Rangers now.
The longest skid in the major leagues since Kansas City lost 19 in 2005 began with a loss at Oakland on July 6 and included four-game sweeps against division rivals, the Los Angeles Angels and the Rangers. The Mariners led in seven of the games, twice in the seventh inning, and loss No. 10 -- to the Blue Jays -- came in 14 innings.
The last nine games were all on the road against the AL East. They lost three to Toronto, three to Boston, and then dropped the first two to New York, managing just one hit Tuesday night. Wedge called the schedule a "perfect storm."
Wedge shaved his mustache after the Mariners lost Saturday, pushed back the report time and canceled batting practice Tuesday but had nothing up his sleeve Wednesday.
"No, the only trick is these guys have to go out and do better," he said before the game.
And that's what they did.
The Mariners came in hitting .218 during the streak but smacked around a struggling Phil Hughes (1-3) for nine hits and two runs over six innings.
"It was better. Better is not saying all that much compared to (my) last outing, but it was better," said Hughes, who was rocked for seven runs in his previous outing Friday.
Seattle let loose in the seventh after Cano's error on Ackley's run-scoring fielder's choice.
"When I look back on what our club has done this year, and when I look back 20 years from now, I probably am not going to remember it," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said about being the team that snapped the skid. "They were going to win a game at some point. We didn't play well, and that's why we got beat."
The Mariners had lost Hernandez's previous five starts, but they had to gain some confidence in sending the AL Cy Young Award winner to the mound.
Hernandez (9-9) had never lost in the new Yankee Stadium, never even given up a run in two starts in the billion-dollar ballpark. The Mariners beat New York the past five times he started.
He was nearly as dominant again. He gave up two hits through four innings before New York loaded the bases in the fifth on a walk and two hits. One was nearly an out when Ryan made a diving stop at shortstop and whirled throw to first, but Justin Smoak's foot was pulled off the bag on the stretch.
Jeter hit a sacrifice fly for the Yankees' first run against King Felix in 21 innings here to make it 2-1.
"That was the key to the game, one run. I made good pitches," Hernandez said. "We made good plays, too."
Hernandez gave up five hits, walked four and struck out five to win for the first time since June 24. He uncharacteristically remained in the dugout for the final two innings.
"That was nice to see him out there the whole game," Ryan said.
NOTES: The Yankees likely will activate RHP Rafael Soriano from the 60-day DL on Friday when they open a series against Baltimore. ... Suzuki stole two bases. ... Ryan extended his hitting streak to 11 games. ... Girardi said the Yankees will start A.J. Burnett on Friday against Baltimore. Bartolo Colon will follow for one of the games Saturday. He wouldn't say who will start the other game in the day-night doubleheader. Freddy Garcia will pitch Sunday.