Larry LaRue / The News Tribune
By Larry LaRue
The News Tribune
NEW YORK – He gave up a three-run home run in the first inning, a two-run shot in the second – so by the time Jamie Moyer’s got six outs Saturday the New York Yankees had a 5-0 lead.
For most teams, that would have been enough. The Mariners, however, see things differently.
“We looked at it like we had seven more chances to come back,” Moyer said.
Come back they did, forging a tie in the eighth inning and then scoring four times in the ninth to beat the Yankees 9-5.
“We had enough runs to beat most teams,” manager Joe Torre said. “They’re not most teams.”
After using power to make a game of it – riding home runs by Ben Davis, John Olerud, Jeff Cirillo and Carlos Guillen – the Mariners used little ball to grab their third consecutive win.
If it sounds simple, it wasn’t. Down 5-0 to Orlando Hernandez in the second inning, Seattle was still down 5-4 to the New York bullpen in the eighth.
And with the game tied in the ninth, the man they were asked to beat was closer Mariano Rivera.
“You never know,” Olerud said afterward. “I mean, we knew it was bad at 5-0, and even in the eighth inning down by one, it wasn’t good. What do you tell yourself when you’re down by five?
“Have a good at-bat. Maybe the next guy will, too. You just never know.”
The four solo home runs set up the late drama, getting the Mariners to the eighth inning down 5-4.
“Then it got interesting,” Moyer joked.
Bret Boone, out of the starting lineup with a bruised right heel, led off as a pinch-hitter – and legged out an infield single before limping off the field for a pinch-runner.
“It’s easier for me to sprint to first than to walk across the room,” Boone said. “I can run, I just can’t walk.”
Ichiro Suzuki singled, sending pinch-runner Luis Ugueto to third. Suzuki then stole second base despite four stitches in his left knee.
Asked to throw a fastball low and away, reliever Steve Karsay instead unleashed one high – and it bounced off catcher Jorge Posada’s glove for a passed ball. Ugueto scored easily, and it was tied 5-5.
In the bullpen, Jeff Nelson had warmed up, turning to a couple of new Mariners and saying, ‘Wait until I get in the game. You’ll hear 52,000 people booing me.’
“They didn’t believe me,” Nelson said. “Then I walked out there in the bottom of the eighth inning, and if there were 52,000 in the stands (there were 52,081), 49,000 of them started booing.”
With one out, Nelson walked a batter and then threw to first base eight times to keep pinch-runner Gerald Williams close. On each throw to first, the boos got louder.
“The calls came from the dugout. I don’t have much of a pickoff move,” Nelson said. “After about the fifth time, I was booing myself.”
Williams stole second base and Nelson walked John Vander Wal, then struck out Alfonso Soriano. On a 3-2 pitch, he walked Bernie Williams to load the bases.
Up came Derek Jeter.
“I’ve gotten him before with sliders, so I thought I’d try fastballs,” Nelson said. “With the count 2-2, the ball they gave me felt slick, so I thought I’d try the slider.”
Jeter fouled it off and Nelson threw another ball.
And with the bases loaded, two outs and the game tied, Nelson threw a 3-2 slider that Jeter took for a called third strike. Nelson bounded off the mound pumping his fist. Jeter fired his bat toward the Yankee dugout.
Torre opened the ninth by staying with Karsay, but when Desi Relaford singled, the Yankees went to Rivera. Piniella asked Davis to bunt Relaford to second, and Davis pushed the bunt toward the mound.
Rivera pounced on it, but his throw to second was wide, forcing Jeter off the bag – and the Mariners had two baserunners with no one out. Ugueto dropped a bunt, and third baseman Robin Ventura turned it into a force at second base.
One out, runners at first and third base. Suzuki up.
Torre ordered Suzuki intentionally walked – Suzuki’s league-leading seventh intentional walk of the season.
“You’re not going to turn a double play with Ichiro hitting,” Piniella said. “And they were trying to set up a double play.”
Cirillo, whose sixth-inning home run inched the Mariners closer, parachuted a single into shallow center field for a run. Ruben Sierra, on a full swing, nubbed a ball 10 feet in front of the plate – and when neither Rivera nor Posada could pick it up, Sierra was given an RBI single that made it 7-5.
Olerud singled home two more runs and that big Yankee crowd went silent. New York doesn’t blow 5-0 leads in New York – the Yankees hadn’t done in Yankee Stadium in three years.
“You can’t expect it, but with the guys we have on this club and what we’ve done the last few years, what you do expect is effort,” Moyer said.
“What these guys give you every day is their best, whatever the score.”