That two-run shot by Jayson Nix of the New York Yankees ended any real hope for Hector Noesi and his Mariners in a game they wound up losing 6-2.
NEW YORK — Those into silver linings had plenty to take away from this latest Hector Noesi mound adventure.
They could read the box score without having watched the game and come away reasonably impressed with Noesi lasting seven innings, allowing only six hits and leaving with five earned runs against him at Yankee Stadium. But anyone into actually winning games will note that a 6-2 defeat Saturday was all but sealed by the fourth inning when Noesi couldn’t finish any two-strike pitches.
That Noesi ate some innings later on hardly mattered to the New York Yankees, who put it in cruise control the rest of the day. But when you’re the Mariners and rebuilding is the buzzword, the silver-lining victories are often all you’ll manage in ballparks where winning games takes precedence above all else.
“He was pitching good all day long, he just made some mistakes with two strikes there in that second inning and they made him pay for it,” Mariners manager Eric Wedge said. “But really, even before that and after that and getting to the point where he had two strikes, he was really good today.
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“He got a lot of good hitters out today.”
Presumably, the Mariners — trying to encourage a young pitcher who has been inconsistent at best — will now work with Noesi on getting those good hitters out when the game is still within reach. Because when this one, played in front of 43,954 fans, was up for grabs, Noesi couldn’t make a two-strike pitch count.
He served up three doubles and a two-run homer in the second inning by Jayson Nix, a backup infielder who had been 0 for 20 dating to last season. Noesi then left a full-count fastball up to Raul Ibanez in the fourth and watched him crank it over the center-field wall for a solo homer and 5-0 lead.
Ibanez doubled a run home in the second and has two homers, the double and five runs batted in over the first two games of the series.
Down five runs early, the offense responded as one might expect and didn’t look all that competitive against Yankees starter Phil Hughes. Mike Carp finally hit a solo homer in the seventh and then nearly smacked a second long ball in the ninth.
Carp’s shot hit the top of the right-field fence and was initially ruled a two-run homer. But upon video review, it was changed to a run-scoring double.
The power display by Carp was one of the rare offensive highlights for an M’s team shut down by Hughes over 7-2/3 innings.
“He just commanded the zone real well,” Carp said of Hughes, who entered the day with a 6.67 earned-run average. “I think we expected a little more of last year’s Hughes. His velocity was up a little bit. He just mixed his pitches up real well. He got a lead right away and that really helps a pitcher’s confidence.”
Carp said it was “hard to say” how the five-run deficit early impacted the confidence of Seattle’s hitters.
“During the game, you chip away, it’s the same as if you have a lead,” he said. “You still want to keep tacking on. You do your part, execute and hopefully the runs score and you get a big hit later on.”
But the only big hits in this one came off Noesi.
He had Mark Teixeira down 0-2, then saw a fastball ripped to the right-field corner. With Ibanez down 0-2, Noesi threw two balls, then hung a changeup that was poked down the left-field line for another double.
Noesi jumped ahead 0-2 on the next batter, Russell Martin, only to see the .184-hitting catcher blast one over the head of center fielder Michael Saunders for another double.
Nix then took a 1-1 sinker over the wall in right for a two-run homer. He last went deep 11 months ago while playing for Toronto.
“I was just missing three or four spots in the second inning and that was it,” Noesi said.
He added that he was trying too hard that inning and throwing from a three-quarters slot instead of over the top. As the game wore on, he tried to focus more on keeping his mechanics in-line.
After the Ibanez homer in the fourth, Noesi allowed just one more hit and finished by retiring 10 of 11.
But his team was never close to being in it again. Noesi got lit up early and often by the White Sox and Rangers and also blew a 4-0 lead and lasted only five innings in Detroit a few weeks ago.
The Mariners have been plagued by early deficits in several outings by back-end starters and may make a move in coming weeks with Erasmo Ramirez stretching out at Class AAA. Still, Wedge said despite this latest early run giveaway, Noesi continues to show improvement.
“When you evaluate stuff and you evaluate pitchers, it’s a heck of a lot easier to do it against very good hitting clubs,” Wedge said.
So, score one for evaluations against good clubs. But as far as beating one of them, Noesi will need to show a lot more, a lot sooner, to give his offense a chance.
Geoff Baker: 206-464-8286 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter @gbakermariners.
|3,000 and counting|
|Derek Jeter had two hits against the Mariners Saturday, tying Tony Gwynn for 17th on the career list.|
|1. Pete Rose||4,256|
|2. Ty Cobb||4,189|
|16. Robin Yount||3,142|
|17. Derek Jeter||3,141|
|17. Tony Gywnn||3,141|
|19. Dave Winfield||3,110|