Poor fielding and a baserunning mistake didn't help the Mariners as Freddy Garcia and the Yankees handed them only their second loss in the last 10 games.
NEW YORK — Playing the Yankees in their ballpark, where they have the most home victories in the American League, is daunting enough.
Doing it without two regulars, and then playing sloppily on top of it, is a surefire recipe for defeat. And that’s precisely what happened to the Mariners as they fell 6-2 at Yankee Stadium on Sunday, just their second loss in the last 10 games.
“It was one of those days,” Mariners manager Eric Wedge said. “We kind of labored through that game there.”
The Mariners labored at the plate, where they managed just five hits — three in the first inning off Freddy Garcia.
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They labored on the base paths, with Jesus Montero running through the stop sign of third-base coach Jeff Datz and getting thrown out at the plate to thwart a promising first-inning rally.
They labored on the mound, where starter Hisashi Iwakuma was not nearly as sharp as he was his last time out in setting a rookie strikeout record with 13 in a win over Toronto. Iwakuma gave up seven hits, walked two and hit a batter in five innings, giving up four runs.
And they labored in the field, committing one vital error that led to an unearned run, and making a couple of other sloppy mistakes that led indirectly to runs.
“These guys have been really good defensively,” Wedge said of his team. “It was just one of those days where there were a couple of plays that we didn’t make.”
The Mariners played without shortstop Brendan Ryan, still nursing a sore elbow after getting hit on Saturday, and first baseman Mike Carp, who flew to California after becoming the father of new baby girl. Carp is expected back Monday when the Mariners open a series in Baltimore. Ryan is day to day.
Center fielder Michael Saunders — who lost a fly ball by Ichiro in the sun in the seventh inning — believes the Mariners won’t let this game, or the series loss in New York, derail their hot streak.
“This team, just the attitude in the clubhouse, it feels like it’s completely different,” he said. “We knew coming into New York they play really tough at home. We were talking about it. We were in all these games.
“It would have been obviously nice to take the series. But we did manage to take one off them. We’ve got to feed off that and go into Baltimore and put these losses behind us. We know we’ve continued to play good baseball for a good long stretch. We’re feeding off each other, there’s a good energy, and we’re playing great baseball right now.”
Not so much on Sunday, however. The Mariners started promisingly when Dustin Ackley singled on Garcia’s first pitch and eventually scored on a Montero single. But Montero ill-advisedly tried to score from second on a two-out single by Kyle Seager, despite Datz’s efforts to stop him, and was thrown out by Nick Swisher on a fairly close play.
“I just didn’t see Datzy,” Montero said. “I told him, ‘Hey, I apologize. I didn’t see you.’ I don’t know, I might have fell right there (if he had tried to stop).”
The only other Mariners hits came in the fifth, when Montero singled home Saunders, who had doubled. In the three games in New York, the Mariners hit .171 (16 for 94).
“I didn’t feel we were giving away at-bats,” Wedge said. “We still need to get better with our pitch selection. We had some hard outs, but I’d still like to see us doing a better job with out pitch selection.”
Three of the hard outs were by Trayvon Robinson — liners right at first baseman Mark Teixeira, shortstop Derek Jeter and reliever Rafael Soriano to lead to a hard-luck 0-for-4 day.
“It was a little frustrating,” Robinson said. “Actually, after the second one, I started laughing a little bit. It’s part of the game, you know? I know I’m doing something right, staying within myself and hitting the ball hard.”
Ackley, replacing Carp at first, had a ball go through his legs for an error that led to an unearned run in the second. A passed ball by Montero in the sixth preceded a two-run single by Raul Ibanez, who had homered off Iwakuma earlier. And in the first, the Mariners missed a chance to get Robinson Cano trying to advance on a throw when third baseman Chone Figgins dropped the ball on the transfer. To add to the frustration, a pair of singles that drove in three runs just barely eluded leaping shortstop Munenori Kawasaki.
“We had some guys that were playing positions they hadn’t played a great deal,” Wedge said.
In the seventh, Ichiro hit a routine fly to Saunders, who lost it in the sun. It bounced off his calf, and Ichiro ended up with a fluke double that extended his Yankees hitting streak to 12. In each of those games, Ichiro has had just one hit.
Saunders said he saw the ball initially before losing it in the sun.
“Obviously, it hit me so I was in the right spot,” he said. “I just lost it.”
Larry Stone: 206-464-3146 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter @StoneLarry.