It’s just the sixth time in the 50 games the Mariners have scored three runs or fewer that the team has come away with a win.
NEW YORK — The Mariners rarely play in games like this, let alone win them.
A low-scoring nail-biter rarely happens for the Mariners with their starting rotation unless James Paxton is on the mound. It certainly hasn’t happened recently with Paxton and Felix Hernandez on the disabled list and the rotation being held together with duct tape and dreams.
But on Friday night, seven pitchers combined to hold the Yankees to just one run and newcomer Yonder Alonso provided the go-ahead homer in the top of the 11th off fellow Cuban Aroldis Chapman. Edwin Diaz pitched a scoreless bottom of the inning to close out a 2-1 victory. It was Diaz’s 30th save of the season as the Mariners improved to 66-63, and 5-2 on the 12-game road trip.
Mariners @ Yankees, 10:05 a.m., ROOT
For just the sixth time in the 50 games they have scored three runs or fewer, the Mariners celebrated a victory.
“We hung in there,” manager Scott Servais said. “Huge home run by Yonder. It was great to see. That’s as tough as it gets off Chapman. It was a good team win. We really grinded it out. In this ballpark against that ballclub, they are going to make you work.”
It seemed unlikely that the Mariners would muster much against the vaunted, flame-throwing Yankees bullpen in extra innings. But the hardest thrower in that collection, Chapman, has been abysmal of late. He pitched his way out of the closer’s spot and he seems no closer to returning to the job.
After getting two easy outs, Chapman couldn’t finish the inning. He fired a 2-1 fastball to Alonso that registered 100 mph. But it was also right into Alonso’s hitting zone and he didn’t miss it — sending a line drive over the wall in dead center. He was just the third left-handed batter to hit a homer off Chapman in his career.
For Alonso, who had four career plate appearances against Chapman and was once his teammate with the Reds, the plan was simple.
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“I’m just trying not to strike out, to be honest with you,” he said. “He’s as tough as they get. He’s got electric stuff and 100-plus-mile-per-hour fastball and a wicked slider. Right there, I’m just trying to be easy and make contact and get a strike.”
As part of the MLB “Players Weekend,” players had nicknames on the back of their jerseys. Chapman had “The Missile” for his nickname.
Coming into the game, the pitching matchup of lefties CC Sabathia and Ariel Miranda seemed a little lopsided. Over his last eight outings, Miranda had pitched six innings just once, posting an ERA over 7.00. He’s also given up 31 homers, which isn’t ideal for the hitter’s haven that is Yankee Stadium.
Sabathia was 14-5 with a 2.62 ERA in 27 career starts vs. the Mariners. The big lefty was making his second start since returning from the disabled list.
He was solid in his outing, working seven complete innings and allowing one run on five hits with a walk and six strikeouts. Seattle’s run against him came in the fourth inning when Mike Zunino crushed a 2-0 changeup into the left-field seats for a 1-0 lead. It was Zunino’s 19th homer of the season. He had three hits.
“Z is really swinging the bat well,” Servais said. “He’s got the feel back again that he had earlier in the season.”
Miranda worked back-to-back 1-2-3 innings to start the game, but then his command, which was iffy early, devolved into a complete struggle. He walked the bases loaded in the third inning with one out. But he managed to work out of the inning unscathed, getting a pair of fly-ball outs. It took 27 pitches to finish the frame.
The Mariners’ bullpen couldn’t quite complete the combined shutout. Emilio Pagan and Marc Rzepczynski combined to work the sixth and seventh scoreless. But in the eighth, former Yankee David Phelps struggled with his command and the usually dependable Guillermo Heredia made a costly error in the outfield that to led a run.
With one out, Phelps walked Aaron Judge and allowed a double to the gap in left-center to DiDi Gregorious. Heredia couldn’t cut the ball off cleanly and dropped it, allowing Judge to score from first to tie the game at 1-1.