Mariners can't keep up with tenacious Yanks

Mariners can't keep up with tenacious Yanks

Mariners can't keep up with tenacious Yanks
NEW YORK -- Former Mariners Freddy Garcia and Raul Ibanez supplied the pitching and the punch on Sunday as the Yankees beat Seattle, 6-2, on a humid 90-degree afternoon in the Bronx. But the current Mariners say they can't let one lost series derail their midseason run.

Seattle has lost just two of its last six series, but both came against the Yankees, who improved their American League East-leading record to 63-44.

The Mariners are 15-7 since the All-Star break but dropped two of three to the Yankees to start a nine-game road trek and sit at 51-59 with the Orioles and Angels still to go on this trip.

"This team, just the attitude in the clubhouse, it feels like it's completely different," center fielder Michael Saunders said as the Mariners dressed in preparation for a Sunday night train ride to Baltimore. "We went on a pretty good stretch there. We knew coming into New York they play really tough at home. We were talking about it. We were in all of these games.

"It would have been obviously nice to take the series," Saunders said. "But we did manage to take one off them. We've got to feed off that and go into Baltimore and put these losses behind us. But we know we've continued to play good baseball for a good, long stretch. We're feeding off each other, there's a good energy and we're playing great baseball right now."

The Mariners didn't play particularly great baseball on Sunday, however, as a normally stout defense made several mistakes and a baserunning miscue took them out of a potential big inning in the first.

Garcia, 35, was the winning pitcher for the Yankees as he earned career victory No. 150 and evened his record at 5-5 on the season with five innings of two-run ball. Ibanez, 40, drove in three runs in a 2-for-4 day with a solo home run and a two-run single.

Hisashi Iwakuma took the loss, giving up four runs (three earned) over five innings, with seven hits, two walks and four strikeouts. The 31-year-old rookie from Japan is now 2-3 with a 4.20 ERA overall and 1-2 with a 3.71 ERA in six starts since moving to the rotation last month.

"I didn't have good command," said Iwakuma, who struck out a career-high 13 in an eight-inning gem his previous outing, against the Blue Jays. "That's the biggest difference between this time and last time I pitched."

Iwakuma has faced the Yankees in two of his last three starts, having gone five innings with one run allowed on July 25, and New York fared better this time around.

"I think his big thing is trying to get guys to chase his sliders and his splitters," said Yankees catcher Chris Stewart, who went 2-for-3 and scored three runs. "Fortunately, we were able to get him up and put good swings on the strikes that he threw."

Catcher Jesus Montero provided a pair of RBI singles in a 2-for-4 day against his former team, but the youngster also took the Mariners out of a first-inning rally with a baserunning gaffe.

The not-speedy Montero ran through a stop sign by third-base coach Jeff Datz and was thrown out at home by right fielder Nick Swisher while trying to score from second on a single by Kyle Seager.

"I just didn't see Datzy," said Montero. "I told him, 'Hey, I apologize. I didn't see you.' I don't know; I might have fallen right there [if I'd tried to stop]."

Datz was set up deep toward home plate, and Montero didn't pick him up until it was too late, but manager Eric Wedge declined to make an issue of the play, at least publicly.

"Sometimes it works out for you and sometimes it doesn't," Wedge said of running through the stop sign. "Swisher came up and made a good throw, and he was out."

Montero got the Mariners off on the right foot with an RBI single, but his decision to test Swisher's arm ended a promising start after three of the game's first five hitters had singled off Garcia.

Sloppy defense didn't help Iwakuma, either, forcing him to throw extra pitches in the first, an inning before an unearned run scored when Dustin Ackley saw a hard ground ball by Curtis Granderson go through his legs, letting Stewart score from second.

Ackley was playing first base, with Mike Carp having flown to California for the birth of his daughter, while shortstop Brendan Ryan was also sidelined by a bruised left elbow that was plunked in Saturday's 1-0 Mariners win.

Two of the Yankees' key hits were line drives just over the glove of a leaping Munenori Kawasaki at short, and Saunders lost a popup in the sun by Ichiro Suzuki that fell in for a double.

"It was just one of those days," said Wedge. "These guys have been really good defensively. There were just a couple plays we didn't make, and we had the sun ball. But we didn't have Carp and Ryan in there either. We had some guys playing positions they hadn't played a great deal."

It was also one of those days at the plate for Trayvon Robinson, who went 0-for-4 while lining out hard three times.

"I know I'm doing something right, staying within myself, hitting the ball hard," said Robinson.

But after failing to take advantage of their first-inning rally, the Mariners managed just two hits the rest of the day and had just one baserunner -- on a Seager walk in the eighth -- in four frames against the Yankees' bullpen.

Greg Johns is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB as well as his Mariners Musings blog. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.