Mariners lose 5-2 in Ichiro's final game at Safeco Field this year
In 47 home games this season, the Mariners have a .193 batting average and have scored 133 runs (2.8 per game).
Seattle Times staff reporter
In each of the two games against Tampa Bay that closed their last road trip, the Mariners scored a pair of runs early and held on to them for 2-1 victories.
They tried to do the same thing Wednesday at Safeco Field, and were reminded of a pertinent fact: The Yankees aren't the Rays. The game also reinforced another painful truth for the Mariners: Producing offense in their home ballpark is mostly a losing proposition this season.
In Ichiro's final game in Seattle this season, the Yankees exploded for four runs in the eighth inning to defeat the Mariners, 5-2, before a crowd of 36,071 that was mixed in its allegiance.
Pinch-hitter Jayson Nix had the big hit for the Yankees, a bases-clearing, bases-loaded double off reliever Shawn Kelley.
"We almost squeezed by," Mariners manager Eric Wedge said. "But you just can't play it that tight against a veteran offensive club like that. They really stepped up there in that eighth."
Until that inning, the Mariners were clinging to a 2-1 lead built entirely in the first inning against Yankees starter Ivan Nova. After Derek Jeter homered off Mariners starter Hisashi Iwakuma in the top of the inning, the Mariners mustered their only rally of the day.
With one out, Michael Saunders and Jesus Montero singled, and John Jaso produced one of his three walks on the day to load the bases. Kyle Seager fell behind 0-2 before working a walk that forced in a run — his 60th run batted in, just two behind Miguel Olivo's team-leading total a year ago.
Mike Carp delivered a fielder's-choice grounder for another run, and that was pretty much the extent of the Mariners' offense. They didn't get their next hit until Casper Wells' two-out single in the ninth inning, by which time the Yankees' eruption had rendered the effort moot.
"In order to win that game, you're going to have to separate. It's going to be tough to expect to keep it at 2-1," Wedge said. "You have to tack on another run or put together another inning where you score a couple, and it's a completely different ballgame."
But at Safeco Field, it's the same old game for the Mariners. In losing two of three to the Yankees following a 5-2 road trip, they scored just seven runs and hit .136 (12 for 88) with three extra-base hits. In 47 home games, they have a .193 average and have scored 133 runs (2.8 per game).
With Iwakuma working out of several jams in his five-inning stint, it looked like they still might survive this one until the eighth. Josh Kinney, who had worked an impressive seventh with two strikeouts, began ominously by hitting Jeter on his hip with his first pitch of the inning. Felix Hernandez had hit three batters the night before, but there was no retaliation from the Yankees in Wednesday's series finale.
"I was making my pitches today, and I liked our chances right there," Kinney said. "I had to get Jeter out to start the eighth. First pitch — it stinks. I was trying to throw a fastball in, get him to roll over and hit a nice, easy ground ball. I just threw it too far in. That kind of got it all started."
Lucas Luetge came in and gave up singles to Robinson Cano and Mark Teixeira to load the bases, but got Curtis Granderson to foul out.
With Brandon League being held back for the ninth inning because Tom Wilhelmsen was unavailable after pitching in four of the previous five games, Wedge called on Kelley. The right-hander went to a full count on Nix before he drilled a slider to the gap in left-center, driving in three.
"Bases loaded, you can't walk him," Kelley said. "I figured I'd throw my best pitch in the bottom of the zone. That's my slider, and he got me."
Kelley gave up one more run on a Russell Martin single, and Rafael Soriano put down the Mariners in the ninth for his 26th save.
"Sometimes," Kelley said, "you don't like this game when you leave the ballpark. But we'll get back tomorrow."
Larry Stone: 206-464-3146 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
On Twitter @StoneLarry