The Yankees beat the Mariners this afternoon in the Bronx, 5-4, for their fifth win in a row. After a rough start, Andrew Heaney settled down to give the Yankees six solid innings, and the Yanks scratched together four runs in what was an unusual inning in the sixth, keying the comeback victory.
Seattle got things going quickly in the top of the first inning. Mariners second baseman Abraham Toro led off the game with a double off the glove of Brett Gardner in left-center field. Heaney looked like he might get out of trouble by striking out Mitch Haniger, inducing a groundout to short from Ty France, and getting a popup from Kyle Seager. Unfortunately, Seager’s popup went 343 feet over a part of the right-field wall that sat about 337 feet away, and Seattle had a 2-0 lead.
In the bottom of the first, with two outs and nobody on base, Mariners starter Chris Flexen threw a curveball to Aaron Judge that the DH was just a little bit out in front of, and got it off the end of the bat. When the ball landed 421 feet away in the left-field bleachers, all had risen and the Yankees trailed 2-1.
Heaney continued to draw the ire of Yankees fans by giving two runs right back in the top of the second inning. Seattle only managed one hit, but with three Heaney walks — one with the bases loaded — and a deep sacrifice fly that came just a bit shy of a grand slam, Seattle tacked two on the scoreboard and had a 4-1 lead after one and a half.
While Yankee fans of a certain age were having flashbacks to the Steve Trout Era, Heaney settled down and pitched well after the second inning. When he left after six innings, he had given up four runs on just four hits while striking out nine and walking three. It was a nice comeback over the last few frames for Heaney, who both kept the Yankees in the game and gave the weary relief corps a rest that they probably didn’t expect after the end of the second.
Given that two of Heaney’s runs scored on a popup with an exit velocity of 90.7 mph, he actually pitched better than the line indicates. Yet soon, Seattle and everyone else in attendance would soon be reminded that the short porch giveth and the short porch taketh away.
After Giancarlo Stanton led off the bottom of the sixth inning with his second hit of the day, Rougned Odor hit a popup with an 89 mph exit velocity that traveled 328 feet, and to everyone’s surprise (including Odor’s) went over the right-field wall for a two-run home run. That cut the Mariners’ lead to 4-3 and ground Flexen’s otherwise-solid afternoon to a halt.
The Bombers weren’t done in the sixth, however, as the Seattle defense chipped in to help the Yankees’ cause. Gleyber Torres lifted a fly to right fielder Mitch Haniger, who absolutely botched it:
mitch haniger is HAVING A TIME in right field pic.twitter.com/iHXNJcVB9F— Pinstripe Alley (@pinstripealley) August 7, 2021
The three-base error allowed Torres to go all the way to third, and he scored the tying run when Kyle Higashioka, pinch-hitting for Rob Brantly, cracked a ground-rule double to left.
Next up, a mental error by first baseman Ty France combined with some savvy baserunning by DJ LeMahieu to put the Yankees in front. LeMahieu had singled to move Higashioka to third, and Anthony Rizzo smoked a hard grounder to France. He stepped on the bag for the force out, and then turned to get LeMahieu out at the second ...
... but DJ froze in the middle of the two bags. The force at second was off after France stepped on first. It was too late for the Mariners to get Higashioka coming home, as he ran on contact, and they had to chase LeMahieu down for the final out. It was a double play, but the go-ahead run counted. The sixth thus ended with the Yankees somehow holding a 5-4 lead.
Yankee relievers Clay Holmes, Joely Rodríguez, and Jonathan Loaisiga combined to throw shutout relief to seal the win, thankfully without drama. The trio combined for four strikeouts while allowing only one hit and no walks over the final three innings to shut the door. Holmes in particular appears to be a real find from the Pirates, as he has now thrown 7.1 innings of one-run ball with no walks allowed across six games. Rodríguez wrapped up the eighth, and with Aroldis Chapman on the shelf, Loaisiga retired the M’s in order for the save.
The Yankees will look for the four-game sweep and their sixth win in a row overall tomorrow afternoon at the Stadium. It’s another 1pm ET matinee, as Luis Gil will be recalled for his second career start, while Yusei Kikuchi will pitch for Seattle.