Mariners’ alumni beat former team for Yanks
It was Mariners Alumni Day at Yankee Stadium Sunday. Three players who spent much of their careers in Seattle were at the forefront of the Yankees’ 6-2 victory over their former team that avoided a third straight losing series at home.
Freddy Garcia gutted through the excessive humidity to pitch five serviceable innings and earn his 150th career victory (against 100 losses), a .600 winning percentage that is quite enviable. Garcia posted a 76-50 record with a 3.89 ERA in six seasons with the Mariners.
Raul Ibanez provided sufficient support with his 15th home run in the fifth inning and a two-run single in the sixth. Ibanez had two separate five-year stints with the Mariners and hit .284 with 127 home runs. He is batting .303 with three home runs in 66 at-bats as a designated hitter.
Ichiro Suzuki, who had 10 seasons of 200 or more hits in 11-plus seasons with the Mariners, extended his hitting streak to 12 games with a sun-aided double and also reached base by getting hit with a pitch.
Conversely, both Seattle runs were driven in by a Yankees alumnus, catcher Jesus Montero.
Garcia did not come close to matching the game his fellow Venezuelan, Mariners righthander Felix Hernandez, pitched against the Yankees Saturday, a two-hit shutout, but you can be sure that King Felix was impressed with the grittiness displayed by his mentor and boyhood idol.
“Hopefully, more are coming,” Garcia said of his victory total.
Don’t be surprised if there are. The veteran righthander has filled a void in the rotation since Andy Pettitte fractured his left fibula. In seven starts since getting a second shot in the rotation, Freddy is 3-3 with a 3.95 ERA and 5-5 with a 5.00 ERA overall. Oh, sure, the numbers are not extraordinary, but any manager will take that from a fifth starter.
“Freddy has kept us every game,” manager Joe Girardi said, “and we haven’t scored a lot of runs for him.”
Sunday was the first time in the past eight starts that the Yankees scored more than three runs with Garcia on the mound.
“I didn’t do the job early in the season and was sent to the bullpen,” Garcia said. “I tried to do everything I could to contribute. I pitched okay, and I got a second chance.”
Suzuki remembered a different Garcia when they were teammates at Seattle, a hard thrower who regularly rang up 95 or 96 miles per hour on the jugs gun. A couple of surgeries later, his right arm has changed.
“I think he was able to win as many as 150 games because he made the adjustments he had to make because of the changes in his arm,” Ichiro said. “That is why he has had a long career.”
Suzuki got a gift double when Mariners center fielder Michael Saunders lost his fly ball in the sun in the seventh inning. The 12-game hitting streak matches the franchise record for a player at the start of his term with the Yankees that was established in 1988 by Don Slaught, a catcher that the Yankees had acquired from the Rangers.
Ichiro knew what Saunders was going through. The outfield, especially left field, is treacherous on mid- and late-summer day games. Suzuki himself struggled to catch a fly ball by Kyle Seager in left field for the third out of the third inning.
“I haven’t played left field in all the American League parks yet,” Suzuki said, “but I don’t know if another place can be harder to play than here in the daytime.”
Boone Logan, David Robertson and Rafael Soriano combined for four hitless innings following Garcia. The run Derek Jeter scored in the first inning on an infield hit by Mark Teixeira was career No. 1,830 to tie Hall of Famer Frank Robinson for 14th place on the all-time list. DJ hit .342 in 38 at-bats on the homestand to raise his season average to .314.