Well, the Mariners didn’t sweep the Yankees. And that’s not really a surprise.
It’s hard to sweep the Yankees.
Seattle has not done so since May 3-5 of 2002 at the old Yankee Stadium, and they haven’t pulled off a home sweep since August of 1996.
So should they be disappointed they didn’t get a sweep? Not really. A series win against the Yankees is damn respectable. The chances of the Mariners beating the Yankees on a day when CC Sabathia starts and Jason Vargas is very ordinary, well, are pretty slim.
“They have a lot of the best players in the game,” said Mariners starter Jason Vargas. “You really have to be on top of your stuff and you have to make pitches.”
But Vargas wasn’t on top of his stuff and he struggled to make pitches. Normally, he has impeccable command. But on Sunday, it just wasn’t as crisp.
In the second inning, he got up 0-2 on Nick Swisher. But Swisher shrugged off two changeups out of the zone and then fouled off two fastballs on the corners before getting a fastball he could handle, driving it over the wall in left for a home run.
“When you give them an opportunity to see that many pitches, they are going to wait for you to make mistakes,” Vargas said.
Things fell apart completely in the third inning.
Vargas walked Jeter to start the inning, which is never a good sign, and then gave up a single to Curtis Granderson.
Yet, Vargas looked as though he might be escape with minimal damage. He got Mark Teixeira to bounce out to the mound as the runner advanced to second and third. Alex Rodriguez then hit a hard ground ball to Chone Figgins at third. Figgins fired high to home, but catcher Chris Gimenez made a brilliant play on the throw, jumping and grabbing the ball and coming down and blocking Granderson off the plate for the second out of the inning.
But it didn’t matter. Vargas couldn’t get an out to get out. He gave up an RBI single to Robinson Cano, and then Swisher worked a walk after falling behind 1-2.
It brought the well-traveled Andruw Jones to the plate with the bases loaded.
Vargas got up 0-2 on two pitches. But Jones wouldn’t chase at two pitches on the outside. Vargas continued to nibble on that corner, but his cut fastball caught just a little too much of the plate and Jones went with the pitch driving into the corner in right field for a double and clearing the bases.
“Andruw made a good swing on a good pitch,” Vargas said. “You can’t let those types of hitters see that many pitches in that short of time.”
Eduardo Nunez followed with a triple to score Jones. Suddenly a 1-0 game had turned to a 6-1 game in a half inning.
“When you get behind and with runners on base, they make you pay,” Vargas said. “I got behind and had to force the issue.”
Really Vargas just needed a swing and miss or even a called strike on a borderline pitch to get out with maybe a run or two allowed. Instead he was done after three innings and 80 pitches, giving up six runs on five hits with four walks and just one strikeout.
“He was so close,” Wedge said. “We’ve seen him fight through it before. He just wasn’t able to finish hitters off in the inning.”
Down 6-0 against most pitchers is basically impossible for the light-hitting Mariners, even with six innings left to play. But down 6-0 to Sabathia? Well, that’s insurmountable.
Seattle did little against the former Cy Young award winner. Sabathia cruised through eight innings allowing just five hits on one run – a Justin Smoak solo homer – while striking out five and walking three to improve to 6-3 on the season.
“He’s always good,” Smoak said. “You know you are going to have to battle, scrap to get anything off of him.”
The Mariners did that and still didn’t get much.
Perhaps more disconcerting is the lack of production from the two hitters in front of Smoak. Both Ichiro Suzuki and Chone Figgins are mired in slumps. Figgins has just two hits in his last 36 at-bats and his average has sunk to .193. Ichiro has one hit in his last 22 at-bats and his average has dropped to .272.
“I think both those guys up top are trying to do too much,” Wedge said. “One thing you can’t do is get all back in one game or one at-bat. You have to focus on putting together a good at-bat before the performance and results come.”
- By avoiding the sweep today the Yankees have not been swept by the Mariners since May 3-5, 2002 in Old Yankee Stadium…they have not been swept in Seattle since August 26-28, 1996.
- CC Sabathia now leads the Major Leagues in wins since his debut in 2001 with 163 wins (breaks tie with Roy Halladay)…he pitched 8.0+ innings for the 4th time this season (high: 9.0, 5/24 vs. TOR)…Over his last 3 starts Sabathia has pitched a total of 25.0 innings while only giving up 5 ER (1.80 ERA), including 3 wins and 1 CG.
- The Yankees have scored first in 31 of their 51 games this season (60.8%) and have outscored their opposition 77-44 over the first 2 innings this season…The Yankees have hit Home Runs in the first 2 innings in each game this series (5/27-Teixeira/1st, 5/28-Cano/2nd, 5/29-Swisher/2nd)
- The Yankees have now homered in 40 of the team’s 51 games in 2011 and have scored 49.6 percent of their runs via HR (264 total runs, 131 via HR).
- Andruw Jones recorded his 2nd double of the season on a 3-RBI hit in the 3rd…Jones’ season-high for RBIs in a game is 4, on 5/25 vs. TOR, a game in which he recorded 2 home runs.
- Nick Swisher hit his 3rd home run of the year, and his first since May 7th @TEX…the Yankees are 2-1 in games in which Swisher records a home run. Curtis Granderson has hit in 4 of his last 5 games, with an average of .455 (10×22) in those games. The Yankees scored 7+ runs for the 12th time this season, the last coming on 5/25 vs. TOR (high: 15, 4/23 @BAL)…New York is 11-1 in games in which they’ve scored 7+ runs this season. After not recording an RBI in the month of April, Eduardo Nunez has 7 RBI in the month of May, including one today.
- Mark Teixeira extended both a 6G hitting streak, and a 5G RBI streak with a single in the 4th inning today…over his last 10 games Teixeira is batting .262 (11×42) with 6 HR, and 13 RBI
- Today’s loss snaps a 3-game winning streak by the Mariners and brings their winning percentage back to .500 (26- 26)…Mariners have still won 9 of last 11 and 10 of last 13 games…18-11 (.621) since April 26.
- The Mariners bullpen gave up just 1 ER in 15.0 IP in the series vs. New York…since May 16 the bullpen has a 0.78 ERA, giving up 3 ER in 34.2 IP, a span of 13 games.
- Brendan Ryan extended his team-leading, career-high tying 9G hitting streak, batting .548 (17×31) during the streak (5/20-c)…other 9-game streaks came in 2009 with STL: 8/18-27/2009 & 7/1-10/2009…has hit in 14 of last 17G. Tonight marked Ryan’s second consecutive multi-hit game, and his 6th during his current 9G hitting streak…he has 9 multi-hit games this season (single-game high: 3, 5/24 @MIN)…Ryan also leads the AL in batting during day games with an average of .424 (14×33).
- Justin Smoak broke the shutout in the 6th inning with a solo HR… it is Smoak’s first home run since May 13 @CLE…The Mariners have not been shut out since 5/7 vs. CWS
- Jeff Gray tossed a career-high 4.0 innings today (prev: 3.0, 2x, last 5/10/11 @LAA w/CWS).
- Jason Vargas pitched the least innings as a starter of his career with 3.0, while giving up 6 ER, his 2nd most of the season (high: 7, 4/8 vs. CLE)…prior to his last 2 starts Vargas had put together 3 consecutive quality starts to begin the month of May, a streak in which he pitched 25.2 innings while only giving up 1 ER (0.38 ERA)…in his last 2 starts Vargas has an ERA of 12.90 (11 ER, 7.2 IP)
- The Mariners snapped an 8G winning streak in which Franklin Gutierrez has made an appearance.