The Mariners are now two games below .500 at 48-50 after losing two straight to the visiting Yankees.
Yankees slugger/superhuman Aaron Judge did not just hit a ball far on Friday — he nearly hit one out of Safeco Field, scorching a shot into one of the last rows of the left-field bleachers.
Judge’s three-run display of brute strength meeting hand-eye coordination was the game’s decisive shot. The Mariners lost 5-1, their second straight loss to the Yankees after returning home with so much momentum.
“I don’t think this is a time to panic or anything,” Mariners third baseman Kyle Seager said. “We’ve been playing pretty good ball. We ran into two games where they’ve thrown the ball really well. That stuff happens.”
N.Y. Yankees @ Mariners, 6:10 p.m., ROOT Sports
In short order, Judge has become one of baseball’s biggest stars, largely because he hits some of baseball’s most dramatic home runs. Andrew Moore, the Mariners’ rookie starter, knew this, of course, as Judge batted in the fifth inning of what was then a 2-1 Yankees lead.
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Moore had been pretty good until that point. He’d allowed two runs behind two doubles in the third inning, but avoided the game-altering inning.
In his last start, Moore gave up five runs in three innings, the shortest and rockiest start of his very young career.
Judge dug in against Moore. At 6 feet 7, 282 pounds, he is basically Seahawks tight end Jimmy Graham with a bat.
Felix Hernandez has pitched for more than a decade now, and when asked about Judge the night before, he just laughed and said, “The man’s big. Oh, my god.”
Moore made a mistake with a curveball, and what Judge does with that mistake was shake-your-head impressive: He sent it to the fans in the high seats in the left-field bleachers, his 31st home run of the season, an estimated 440 feet.
That made the score 5-1.
“I’d definitely like to have that one back,” Moore said.
Moore has allowed nine home runs in five starts this season, as he’s learned one of the big differences between pitching in the minors and pitching in the big leagues.
“If you make a mistake, a lot of times they don’t come back, especially with middle-of-the-order guys like that,” he said.
For the second straight night, the Mariners’ offense didn’t do much and had a costly baserunning mistake.
With two outs and two on in the first inning, Seager hit a ball that deflected off the glove of first baseman Chase Headley. Seager beat out the infield single, and Cano scored. The Mariners loaded the bases, with two outs, but Guillermo Heredia grounded out. It was the theme of the game early.
In the second inning, Gamel led off with a double but was thrown out when he tried to take third on a ground ball to the shortstop; the night before, Gamel was thrown out trying to advance to third on a ball hit to the pitcher.
“I don’t break for third if I had to do it again,” Gamel said. “That’s my fault. I’ve got to be better.”
Mariners manager Scott Servais said, “It’s happened here a couple nights in a row, and it’s something we talked about a lot today. Ben’s having a really nice season. He’s done a great job at the plate. We see what he can do in the outfield for us. Sometimes on the bases, he gets a little too aggressive.”
In their last two games, the Mariners have scored two runs and gone 5 for 26 with runners in scoring position.
In their past 13 home games, they are 2-11.
The M’s entered this homestand with momentum. They’d won five of their first six games out of the All-Star break, setting up a big series against the Yankees, a team they’re chasing in the wild-card race. The first two games of the series, however, haven’t carried that momentum forward.