By Bob Dutton The News Tribune
NEW YORK — Some numbers will jump out in glancing at Monday’s box score after the Mariners put a 10-2 beating on the New York Yankees in the South Bronx.
Kyle Seager, first and foremost. He tied a franchise record with four extra-base hits, including two triples and a moonshot homer that soared so quickly into the right-field seats that the outfielders never turned around.
“That’s definitely a special night,” said Seager, who is on a .405 surge (15-for-37) in his last 10 games. “That’s one I’ll remember for sure.”
Michael Saunders also continued his hot streak (.365 in his last 15 games at 19-for-52 with 18 RBIs) by delivering a two-run single in a four-run seventh inning before igniting a four-run ninth with a homer.
Plus, Felix Hernandez, as usual, mustered a little something extra in the New York spotlight. He yielded just two runs in seven innings and is now 8-1 overall with a 2.57 ERA.
Asked if he gets extra amped in New York, Hernandez smiled before answering: “I don’t know, but I like it (here).”
What’s not to like? Hernandez is 6-2 with a 2.04 ERA in nine career starts in New York, including 5-1 and 1.36 in seven starts at the new Yankee Stadium.
And second baseman Robinson Cano returned to the lineup after missing four games because of a bruised hand. He had a single and two walks in five plate appearances while drawing heavy boos all night.
With all that, and more, it might be easy to overlook Brad Miller, who shows signs of emerging from an extended offensive funk. It was his two-run single that broke a 2-2 tie in the seventh inning.
“I think he’s a little more comfortable,” manager Lloyd McClendon said, “and starting to come around a little bit. That was a big hit for us. No question about it. That was `the’ moment in the game.”
The Mariners had loaded the bases with no outs against Yankees starter David Phelps, 1-3, when Miller came to the plate. New York chose to keep its infield back in hopes of preventing a big inning.
It didn’t work.
Miller shot a hard grounder up the middle for a 4-2 lead.
“Coming up with the bases loaded and no outs,” he said, “that puts you in a good position. Just trying to get it done. It’s a tie game, and I was able to get that one up the middle. That definitely felt great.”
Look, it’s a long way back for Miller, who is batting a miserable .164. But he hit a homer in Sunday’s victory over Detroit. Hey, it’s a start.
“I always feel like I’m right there,” he said. “I’m on the pitches I should be (on), and I’m trying to lay off the other ones. I’ve been feeling a lot more comfortable.”
Miller’s tie-breaking single also also helped atone for a defensive mistake that enabled the Yankees to pull even in the fourth. Even then, he made a heads-up defensive play that ended that inning.
And that fourth inning was Hernandez’s only hiccup before Charlie Furbush and Joe Beimel closed the victory, which nudged the Mariners back over .500 at 29-28.
“We’re playing pretty good,” Hernandez said. “We’re doing a lot of things right.”
The Mariners took a 2-0 lead by scoring single runs in the second and fourth after Seager opened both inning with triples.
The Empire struck back in its fourth after Brian McCann served a one-out single into center and chugged to third on Yangervis Solarte’s double into the right-field corner.
Alfonso Soriano struck out on three pitches, but Ichiro Suzuki’s grounder caromed off Hernandez’s heel for an infield single. Solarte kept running and scored when Miller failed to make a clean pickup.
Hernandez blamed himself for kicking the ball.
“Oh, my God!” he said. “I was so (ticked). I should not kick it. I knew Miller was behind me. That’s an out.”
Miller acknowledged he should have just picked up the ball rather than try for a barehanded play that, when he missed, permitted the ball to roll several feet away.
The Yankees had a chance for more when Brian Roberts followed with a single to center, and Kelly Johnson grounded a single to deep short. But Suzuki rounded third too far on Johnson’s single, and Miller threw him out.
“I felt like I didn’t do what I should have (done) the first time,” Miller said. “On that one, I was just thinking, `I’m keeping it in (the infield).’ He was running pretty hard, so I was able to throw to Seager, and he got him.”
It was all Mariners after that.