By Bob Dutton The News Tribune
NEW YORK — Say this about Seattle Mariners rookie left-hander Roenis Elias: He doesn’t rattle. Not even here in the game’s highest cathedral.
First career outing at Yankee Stadium?
Elias rolled through seven dominant innings Thursday night in a 4-2 victory over the New York Yankees that enabled Mariners — the suddenly hot Mariners — to sweep both games in this rain-shortened series.
“Nothing,” Elias said through an interpreter. “Nothing at all. It’s just baseball. That’s where my adrenaline comes from. That’s when I feel good.”
Let’s define good:
Elias (2-2) yielded a leadoff homer in the first inning to Jacoby Ellsbury but bounced back by striking out the next three batters: Derek Jeter, Carlos Beltran and Alfonso Soriano.
After that, pretty much nothing.
Elias yielded an unearned run in the sixth inning, but he also struck out 10 while holding the Yankees to six hits. He spotted his fastball, but it was a sweeping curve that consistently buckled the Yankees.
“That lineup over there,” center fielder Michael Saunders said, “they’re known for banging the baseball around. He did an incredible job. He’d get us back into the dugout early. That makes it a lot easier to hit.
“To go up against a guy with the accolades like (Yankees starter Hiroki) Kuroda, and out-pitch him, and out-duel that Yankee lineup, it shows a lot about him. It’s still his first year, but he’s not pitching like it.”
Saunders had three hits in leading an attack that backed Elias with just enough support. Saunders’ RBI double capped a two-run fourth inning that pushed the Mariners’ lead to 4-1.
Elias took it from there.
“He was hitting his spots,” Jeter said. “He was getting ahead. He pitched a good game. He’s got a good arm … He’s not a typical lefty who tries to trick you. He gets it up there pretty good.”
Elias was slotted for Wednesday’s game before heavy rains forced a postponement — the Mariners will be back here on June 2 to make up that game.
That rainout left manager Lloyd McClendon with a decision: Push everyone back one day, or keep Hernandez on his regular schedule and adjust everyone else.
McClendon opted to stay with Elias; Hernandez starts tonight when the Mariners open a three-game weekend series at Houston.
“Coming into Yankee Stadium or getting off a boat (as a Cuban defector)?” McClendon asked. “I think he’s pretty tough. My hunch was right. I didn’t think Yankee Stadium would bother him that much.”
Yoervis Medina worked a one-two-three eighth inning after inheriting a two-run lead from Elias. Fernando Rodney worked around Ichiro Suzuki’s two-out, pinch-hit single in the ninth inning for his sixth save in seven chances.
When Rodney ended the game by striking out Brett Gardner, the Mariners had their fifth victory in six games since ending an eight-game skid.
“We played well,” catcher Mike Zunino said. “We hit that little rough skid, but we’ve turned it around. We won a couple of big games at home (before coming to New York).
“Hopefully, we can carry it over to the rest of the road trip.”
Cano staked Elias to an early lead with an RBI double in the first inning against Kuroda, but Ellsbury’s homer pulled the Yankees even.
“I was thinking, ‘Wow, the first batter,’” Elias said. “I was shocked that Ellsbury was able to get around on me.”
It didn’t happen again. “He’s got a lot of confidence in his stuff,” Zunino said. “I think that’s the biggest thing. A guy who trusts his stuff and is willing to throw it at any time is going to have success.
“He has a lot of confidence, and it’s only going to grow.”
The Mariners regained the lead at 2-1 on Cano’s RBI ground out in the third before Kuroda (2-3) surrendered two more runs in the fourth after Kyle Seager led off with a single through the right side. Seager went to second when Dustin Ackley worked back from an 0-2 count for a one-out walk and scored when Brad Miller flared a two-out RBI single into short left.
Saunders followed by plugging the left-center gap for an RBI double and a 4-1 lead. The ball bounced over the wall, which cost the Mariners a run because Miller would have scored easily from first.
It didn’t matter. Four runs were plenty.