By Ryan Divish/The Seattle Times
The Seattle Mariners didn’t follow up their “worst game of the season” on Sunday with an even worse showing on Monday night.
Nope, they pulled off one of their more stunning wins in a season where there have been more than a few of them.
Shutdown and shutout for the first eight innings by Chicago White Sox all-star left-hander Chris Sale and trailing 3-0 going into the bottom of the ninth, the Mariners scored four runs off White Sox closer David Robertson, highlighted by Adam Lind’s three-run walkoff homer to pull out an improbable 4-3 win in front of the remaining crowd of 20,598 at Safeco Field.
When Franklin Gutierrez led off the ninth with a single, it was just Seattle’s second hit of the game. Following a fielder’s choice by Robinson Cano for an out, Robertson walked Nelson Cruz and then struck out Dae-Ho Lee. Kyle Seager, who had missed out on an RBI opportunity against Sale in the seventh, dumped a single into center to score Cano and make it 3-1.
Manager Scott Servais called on Lind to pinch-hit for Chris Iannetta. Lind yanked an elevated cut fastball just over the wall in right-center for his 14th homer of the season and his second walkoff of 2016.
Sale, the starting pitcher for the American League in the All-Star Game and Cy Young front-runner, viciously carved up Mariners hitters in his first start after the break, using his mid-90s fastball and nasty, biting slider to work eight shutout innings to be in line for his 15th win of the season.
Seattle mustered just one hit - a first-inning single by Gutierrez - against Sale. The Mariners did draw three walks off him and he hit two batters with pitches to put base runners on. But none them of reached third base.
The closest Seattle came to a scoring opportunity against Sale was in the seventh, down 3-0. With two outs and a runner on first, Sale hit Lee in the back of the leg with a slider. Seager stepped to the plate as the tying run. But a perfect inside fastball on a 1-1 count by Sale put Seager on the defensive. Sale put him away with a nasty slider, generating an awkward swing from Seager, who appeared to be anticipating a fastball. It was easy to predict that runs would be at a minimum against Sale. But the hope for the Mariners was to keep the game close against a Sox team that was in a run-scoring drought and find a way to scratch out a run or two against Sale or the White Sox bullpen.
Working with no margin for error, Mariners starter Wade LeBlanc made two major mistakes in an otherwise decent outing. The veteran left-hander pitched seven innings, giving up three runs on nine hits with a walk and six strikeouts. The two mistakes led to home runs. LeBlanc left a 1-0 fastball over the middle to the second batter of the game - Tim Anderson. The White Sox shortstop crushed it into the upper deck of left field for a solo homer and a 1-0 lead. LeBlanc worked himself into more trouble that inning, giving up a double to Jose Abreu and a single to Melky Cabrera following the homer. But he was able to retire the next two hitters.
LeBlanc worked scoreless second and third innings, but gave up leadoff single to Cabrera to start the fourth. It brought to the plate third baseman Todd Frazier, who came into the game with the second most homers in baseball at 25. A 1-1 changeup that stayed on the outer half quickly became homer No. 26. Frazier got his arms extended and drove it over the wall in straightaway center for a 3-0 lead.
The three runs were the most the White Sox had scored in a game since July 9.
LeBlanc wouldn’t allow another run. Seattle got shutout innings of relief from Vidal Nuno and David Rollins, who got credit for the win.
NY Yankees 2 Baltimore 1
Miami 3 Philadelphia 2
Chicago Cubs 5 NY Mets 1
Detroit 1 Minnesota 0
Cincinnati 8 Atlanta 2
Kansas City 7 Cleveland 3
St. Louis 10 San Diego 2
Colorado 7 Tampa Bay 4
Oakland 7 Houston 4
LA Angels 9 Texas 5
Seattle 4 Chicago White Sox 3
Yankees edge Orioles 2-1
Maybe the odds are stacked up too high, and maybe it’s time to dismantle this team and try again next year, but for at least two days, the Yankees have shown what might have been.
They showed what this season could look like if the starting pitching consistently performed for six innings. What it could be like in October, to hand the ball off to the three-headed beast that makes up the core of the Yankees’ bullpen.
It looks like this: A big win against the Red Sox on Sunday night and an even bigger 2-1 victory over the AL East-leading Orioles Monday night. Happy days at Yankee Stadium, and no talk of trading away anything that isn’t bolted to the ground.
The Yankees got to indulge in a little wish fulfillment Monday thanks to a solid performance by Ivan Nova and the ever-reliable relief of Dellin Betances, Andrew Miller and Aroldis Chapman (J.J. Hardy gave Chapman’s slider a ride to the warning track in leftfield in the ninth, but that’s about it). The Yankees inched back to .500, breathing a little more life into a team that’s been labeled as trade bait with two more weeks left before the Aug. 1 non-waiver deadline.
They also lifted their record to 5-31 in games in which they have scored two or fewer runs. They have scored only 10 runs in four games since the All-Star break but have gone 2-2.
A big part of that was Nova, who, in a rare return to form, kept the hit-happy Orioles at bay. More impressively, he (mostly) kept them in the ballpark.
The Yankees got on the board in the second inning when Alex Rodriguez cranked Kevin Gausman’s 2-and-0 fastball into the bleachers in left for his first home run since June 18 and his first extra-base hit since July 5 (it also snapped an 0-for-8 streak). At that point, Rodriguez was 6-for-12 with three homers and a double against Gausman. But the Orioles were able to get it right back in the manner they best know how. Leading off the third, Jonathan Schoop teed off on Nova’s two-seamer, tying the score and giving the Orioles their major league-leading 142nd home run.
The Yankees scored what proved to be the winning run when Brett Gardner came home on Brian McCann’s sacrifice fly to shallow centerfield in the bottom of the third. Carlos Beltran, whose one-out single had sent Gardner from first to third, went 3-for-4 for the otherwise quiet lineup.
McCann’s fly ball looked destined to create a close play at the plate, but Adam Jones botched the throw, missing his cutoff man and letting the ball skitter to catcher Matt Wieters.
Gausman (1-7, 4.05) has allowed only three runs in 20 2/3 innings against the Yankees this season but is 0-1 against them.
When it comes to the Orioles, giving up one home run _ and a solo shot at that _ can be chalked up as a victory. Schoop’s blast was the Orioles’ only extra-base hit against Nova (7-5, 4.92), who had one of his best performances of the season. The righthander, who had allowed at least four earned runs in four of his previous five starts, gave up four hits, walked three and struck out four while throwing 97 pitches in a performance reminiscent of early May, when he heralded his return from the bullpen with three straight dominant starts of one earned run each. Newsday
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