Yankees 5 Mariners 1: Excellent Pitching; Lucky and Good Hitting

So this is what it feels like to write after a win? It hasn’t been that long–just a few days–but it’s seemed like an eternity. My son had martial arts class so I entered in the fourth, and it was great to see the Yankees ahead 3-0. Wang was dealing, and appeared to suffer from a mild finger injury in the fifth and exited after six. But the bullpen nailed it down the rest of the way, with Nuke’s benevolent alter ego Cool Hand Nuke, Joba, and Mariano finishing the deal. The bats benefited from some Mariners’ miscues in the field to help build the three-run lead, then added two big insurance runs in the bottom of the eighth to salt it. Wang moves to 6-0, lowering his ERA from 3.23 to an even 3 as part of his excellent, and vital, start.

After Wang’s nine-pitch first, the Yankees took a 1-0 lead right away. With one out Jeter reached on an E6, Abreu singled softly, Duncan fanned, but Matsui drove in Jeter with a single to left. But Giambi swung at the first pitch, ending Bedard’s 19-pitch first with a 3-1. After Wang fanned Sexson and Balentien, Ensberg reached on an error and took second on an E4, Gonzo singled to center, and Melky reached down and ripped a low off-speed pitch down the third-base line to score Ensberg and Gonzo, 3-0 Yankees. The Yanks stranded two in the third when Duncan worked a lead-off walk and Giambi was hit by a pitch, but consecutive fly outs to right by Ensberg and Molina ended the threat to add on. Wang averted trouble in the fourth, stranding Ibanez after his lead-off double by getting Beltre on an unproductive 5-3, fanning Clement, and retiring Sexson on a 6-3. After walking Burke with one out and seemingly having trouble with his finger, Wang got Betancourt on a 4-6-3 DP to end the fifth. Ichiro manufactured the lone Mariners run in the sixth, singling with one out, stealing second and third, and scoring on Ibanez’s 4-3, 3-1 Yankees.

But that was all the Mariners would muster. Cool Hand Nuke mowed ’em down with a 1-2-3 seventh with two K’s, Joba allowed only a single to Ichiro (who I really think should be a Hall-of-Fame player) in the eighth, and Mariano worked a 1-2-3 ninth to shut it down. The Yankees added two insurance runs in the eighth. Abreu and Duncan singled, Giambi worked a one-out walk and, instead of using Cano to pinch-hit against the righty Sean Green, Girardi stuck with Ensberg who singled sharply through the hole, 4-1 Yankees. Molina then cranked a deep sac fly to Death Valley, 5-1. I agree with the decision to use Mariano. He was up and well warmed up before the Yankees scored two in the bottom of the eighth, so he might as well have entered and gotten his first work since Monday. Plus, locking this down wasn’t the worst decision the team could have made to get a win under the belt after being swept by Detroit.

Good win rooted in terrific pitching, starting with the outstanding Wang and carrying through the pen. Wang went six, allowing a run earned on three hits and two walks while fanning five on 90 pitches/53 strikes. Nuke has been moving toward Cool Hand Nuke for the last couple weeks. Though he allowed the solo homer in Wednesday’s 6-2 loss to Detroit, he had two scoreless innings against Cleveland (though one with two walks), and has lowered his ERA nearly two full runs after allowing a run against Boston in the 8-5 loss April 13. Since that game, Nuke has worked eight innings and allowed four hits, two runs earned, three walks but fanned ten. That’s pretty good, and I think we’d all take that from him. Mariano still hasn’t allowed an earned run in 2008 and has looked extremely sharp, while Joba was painting the black with 96-97 mph fastballs. The bullpen has been and remains a strong suit for the Yanks, and should serve the team well if not overworked.

Melky was 1-4 with the two-RBI double, giving him 14 RBIs and a .284 average. Matsui’s RBI gives him 14 also, and his 1-4 night sees him continue to add hits but drop in average as Pete Abraham pointed out, hitting a still-sharp .313. Abreu had two soft singles to go 2-4, but they don’t put asterisks next to the hits in the box score, and he’s batting .284 as well. Ensberg and Molina each had RBIs to represent the bottom of the order fairly well tonight, and Gonzo and Duncan each added a hit and a run apiece. Jeter was 0-4 and dropped to .275, but his run moved him into fourth on the Yankees all-time list for runs scored, past DiMaggio and behind only Ruth, Gehrig, and Mantle.  That’s some company. Giambi’s 0-2 puts him at an abysmal .160.

New York ups its record to 15-16, and hopefully the Yankees can manufacture some momentum tomorrow as Mussina (3-3, 4.73 ERA) faces wunderkind Felix Hernandez (2-1, 2.22 ERA) at 1:05 EDT. The posts are so much easier to write after a win.

Published in: on May 2, 2008 at 9:56 pm  Comments (7)  

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7 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. hey nice recap- i just finished watching the game.
    what a great win, especially to get one against bedard. good thing we got those runs in early or it might have been a very tense night. i love watching gonzo- who knows maybe his bat will be good enough for him to be our future SS.
    even though bedard kept them at bay for the rest of his outing the team didn’t have that listless look that plagued them all week. i’m looking forward to listening to the moose tomorrow. very positive attitude, i think we can take that one.

  2. Thanks Mike. Gonzo will be an interesting player to see develop. I think Mike S. is absolutely right (as per usual) about getting off the bandwagon with Betemit when a guy like Gonzo is so much smoother in the field and at various positions, and has hit better. I don’t know how well his bat will develop, but his glove just excellent.

    That the team added on late, in the eighth, was a big step. Those two insurance made it practically automatic with Mariano entering for the ninth. The bullpen has been quite good, and I must give kudos to Cool Hand Nuke. He’s been very good the past couple weeks, and not a moment too soon. Wouldn’t it be something if Mussina pulled out a win against Felix? I won’t hold my breath but, after watching him befuddle the White Sox, I won’t rule out anything.

    A really nice win.

  3. this mariner lineup is pretty sub-par, especially after ichiro- might be the perfect kind of team for the moose to handle. lets hope our lefties can show up against king felix…

    are you around for the game tomorrow?

  4. I agree about the M’s lineup. Sexson has been a bust, Beltre is talented but prone to chasing pitches, and there was some definite impatience last night from Clement and others. I had the sense against the White Sox that if Mussina could keep them off-balance with off-speed stuff, he could be successful. He did so by going from slow to slower, and that might work today, hopefully. The Yankees will certainly need all hands on deck against Felix. He’s something else.

    I should be around for a good part of the game. There is softball practice this morning, and with all the rain we’ve had I’ll need to cut the grass. After that, I should be able to catch some ball.

  5. Wang is 6-0 with a 3.00 ERA on May 3.

    Yeah, I think the doubters can put the “but is he a true ace?” talk to bed.

  6. I know, Steve. The guy has been the winningest pitcher in the majors since coming up in 2005. Especially now, since he’s improved his secondary pitches, he’s been outstanding. I believe that after yesterday’s game, he was the first pitcher in the majors to get to six wins this year. I can’t imagine where the Yanks would be without him–though a particularly fecal creek comes to mind.

  7. Sorry, Brandon Webb had already won six before Wang, and just won his seventh today.

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