A promising top of the first was just about the only good thing to happen on Sunday. After jumping to an early lead, the Yankees squandered what felt like a half-dozen scoring chances throughout the afternoon, ultimately dropping the final West Coast game of the year 3-2 to the Mariners.
The Yankees appeared to have luck on their side early, as Giancarlo Stanton flipped a weak fly ball into left field. Confusion between Jean Segura and Guillermo Heredia let the ball drop in between them, and Stanton was on second base. Miguel Andujar followed up with an RBI double, and the Yankees had an early 1-0 lead.
After that, the offense cooled down. The team loaded the bases in the fourth inning with nobody out, but that yielded just a single run on an Andrew McCutchen walk. The Yankees had plenty of foot traffic, with seven hits, three walks and an error in the first eight innings putting plenty of runners on, they just couldn’t bring any home.
CC Sabathia had himself an odd day. Staked to a 1-0 lead before he even took the mound, Sabathia promptly gave up two runs on four hits in the first, all hits coming with two out. We’ve seen these kinds of struggles from Sabathia a lot lately, and it looked like it’d be another short day for the lefty. After getting out of the first, he managed to work into the sixth before leaving after Robinson Cano led off with a single.
Sabathia certainly wasn’t bad, but his inability to go more than five innings stood out again today. The H/9 is a little skewed, since he had a bad first inning and then settled down, but you wonder what the point of letting Sabathia start the sixth at all is anymore. Might as well let Chad Green – who came in to relieve Sabathia and pitched a perfect sixth – or the reliever-of-the-day start the inning with a clean sheet.
Green also worked a perfect seventh, but things came crashing down in the eighth. Dellin Betances walked Mitch Haniger on four pitches. A steal and a sac bunt had Haniger at third with one out, and Cano dribbled a grounder to Adeiny Hechevarria, who came home too late to get the runner. Betances struck out the next two men, but the damage was done and the M’s were up 3-2.
Edwin Diaz worked the ninth and sat the first two Yankees down, as he is wont to do. Brett Gardner got tossed after a couple of questionable strike calls, showing more fight in the ejection than the whole bottom third of the Yankee order had all day. Andrew McCutchen then got drilled by a pitch, leaving Stanton at the plate with two out. Like the first, he hit a dying fly ball to the outfield, but this time Mitch Haniger made a great diving catch to end the game that I hope consoles him while he watches the playoffs from home (I swear I‘m not grumpy about the game).
The Yankees still won the series, on the road and on the West Coast to boot. I’m not going to be that bothered by the series, but this game was certainly winnable. Next up is a series in Minnesota against the Twins, game one coming at 8:10 ET tomorrow night, with J.A. Happ on the hill.