With Yovani Gallardo on the mound and Robinson Cano out of the lineup, a win looked unlikely from the outset — and it played out as such.
NEW YORK — On paper, it seemed like a game the Mariners were unlikely to win. And on the field, it pretty much followed to form.
Without Robinson Cano in the starting lineup and facing longtime nemesis Sonny Gray, generating runs would be an issue. Meanwhile, Seattle was countering with starter Yovani Gallardo, who has been nothing but frustratingly inconsistent this season, so preventing runs was going to be a problem.
Not much deviated from expectation on Saturday afternoon in the Mariners’ 6-3 loss at Yankee Stadium in a game that wasn’t really that close.
“Not a lot going on today,” manager Scott Servais said. “Obviously last night was an emotional win and you are coming out today in a day game … you have to get after it right away. We just didn’t get much going offensively and a lot had do to with Sonny Gray.”
Seattle continued its weird dance around the .500 mark, falling back to 66-64 and missed out on an opportunity to move up in the wild card race with the Twins losing on Saturday.
“The goal coming was to win the series,” Servais said. “We still have a chance to do that tomorrow. Hopefully we can get Robbie in the lineup and get our offense clicking a little more.”
Gallardo gave the Mariners yet another forgettable start, showing minimal command and efficiency in his 5 2/3 innings of work, allowing four runs with on five hits with five walks and four strikeouts. A workable start turned into a likely defeat in the fourth inning. After getting two quick outs, he gave up a single to Greg Bird, walked Chase Headley and served up a three-run homer to Jacoby Ellsbury, turning a 1-1 game into a 4-1 deficit.
“We’ve had that happen a few times with Yo — just not finishing innings,” Servais said. “It kind of gets away from him.”
Gallardo tried to throw a cutter up and in. But instead of getting in on Ellsbury’s hands, it stayed low and the veteran left-handed hitter was able to lift a fly ball to the short porch in right field.
“I got myself in trouble trying to be too fine to Headley and walking him,” Gallardo said. “The pitch to Ellsbury was a little lower than what I wanted and he hit it up in the air and it ended up going out. That sort of thing just can’t happen in that situation.”
But it’s happened a lot this season. Gallardo is now 5-10 on the season with a 5.78 ERA. He has lost his last three decisions. But given the Mariners’ starting pitching issues with James Paxton and Felix Hernandez on the disabled list, moving Gallardo back to the bullpen may not be an option.
A now healthy Gray was outstanding, seemingly refreshed after being traded out of baseball purgatory in Oakland to the Yankees. He pitched seven innings, allowing one run on three hits with two walks and eight strikeouts. It was the kind of showing Gray used to torment the Mariners with two seasons ago with Oakland. He had pinpoint command with his fastball and slider, using both effectively and keeping hitters off balance.
“Sonny threw the ball really well,” Servais said.
Backup catcher Carlos Ruiz had two of the Mariners’ three hits against Gray. His solo homer in the third inning tied the game at 1-1. It was as close as the Mariners would come to victory.
“He’s a consummate veteran and he knows how to prepare,” Servais said. “You give him a heads up a couple of days ahead of time that he is going to play and who he will be catching and he’s ready to go. He gives us a great effort every time he’s out there.”
With Gray finally out of the game, Seattle picked up two runs on RBI singles from Kyle Seager and Guillermo Heredia in the eighth. But Tommy Kahnle cleaned up the mess in the eighth without allowing further damage, getting Cano, who was pinch hitting, to ground out to end the frame. Dellin Betances worked 1-2-3 ninth for the save.