While the New York Yankees pulled off exhilarating wins in the late innings the past two days, the Seattle Mariners experienced late-game despair once again.
The Yankees seek their fifth straight win Saturday afternoon while the Mariners hope to shake off a pair of tough losses as the American League wild-card contenders continue their four-game series at Yankee Stadium.
New York is 9-2 in its past 11 games since dropping three of four at Boston two weekends ago. Other than scoring 23 runs in a pair of blowout wins over the Baltimore Orioles, the Yankees have seven wins decided by two runs or fewer since their nightmarish trip to Fenway Park.
“These games that we’ve been in that we’ve been close, we’ve kind of found a way,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said after his team survived going 2-for-15 with runners in scoring position to beat the Mariners 3-2 in 11 innings on Friday. “We’ve had times this year when we’ve been kind of down and out, but these closer games most of the year we’ve found a way to win.”
On Thursday, the Yankees opened the series with a 5-3 win when Joey Gallo hit a go-ahead, three-run homer with two outs in the seventh inning off Paul Sewald. A night later, New York prevailed when Brett Gardner hit a two-strike, game-winning single in the 11th off Keynan Middleton.
It was the Yankees’ eighth walk-off win and they improved to 18-11 in one-run games and 38-21 in games decided by two runs or fewer.
While the Yankees are experiencing the elation of dramatic wins so far in this series, Seattle is struggling to close out games on its 10-game trip.
The Mariners are 3-5 on the trek, and other than their 4-3 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays on Wednesday, all of their defeats were decided in the seventh or beyond — and that includes a trio of walk-off losses.
“When you’re right there ready to close it out, it’s disappointing when you don’t,” Seattle manager Scott Servais said after his team fell to 10-3 in extra innings. “So we’ll show up tomorrow, pretty good chance it’ll be another close game, hopefully we’ll come out on the right side of it.”
On Thursday, Seattle rookie Jarred Kelenic hit a solo homer in the seventh off Chad Green. On Friday, J.P. Crawford hit a go-ahead single off Green in the 10th before Erik Swanson allowed a game-tying single to Giancarlo Stanton, allowing the Yankees to win it in the 11th.
The Mariners went 2-for-8 with runners in scoring position on Friday. They have lost five close games on the trip despite hitting .267 (12-for-45) in those situations.
After using nine relievers in a bullpen game, the Yankees hope Andrew Heaney (6-8, 5.42 ERA) fares better Saturday than he did in his team debut. On Monday, he tied a career high by allowing four homers (all solo) when he surrendered four runs on six hits in four innings of a 7-1 loss to the Baltimore Orioles.
Heaney is facing Seattle for the second time in less than a month. On July 16 while with the Los Angeles Angels, the left-hander allowed four runs on six hits in four innings of a 6-5 loss.
Heaney is 3-6 with a 4.28 ERA in 14 career starts against the Mariners, who are hitting .301 against him in those outings.
Chris Flexen (10-5, 3.75 ERA) will start against the Yankees for the first time in his career. He is seeking consecutive wins after allowing two runs in 6 2/3 innings Monday against the Tampa Bay Rays. Flexen’s latest win followed a pair of losses to Oakland and Houston in which he allowed a combined nine runs on 15 hits in 9 1/3 innings.
The Mariners are 14-6 in Flexen’s starts this year, and Monday marked the 12th time he allowed two runs or fewer.
–Field Level Media