NEW YORK — The Seattle Mariners flailed at balls high and low, watched called third strikes and checked their swings too late against CC Sabathia.
When they had the bases loaded and none out against David Robertson in the eighth, they swung and missed some more. Mariano Rivera had the s
ame effect: a big zero.
All the futility at the plate added up to a 17th straight loss for the Mariners.
Seattle managed just one hit while striking out 18 times in a 4-1 loss to the New York Yankees on a rain-soaked Tuesday night.
“We did have a few pitches to hit tonight that we missed. That’s been kind of the story of our season offensively,” Mariners manager Eric Wedge said. “When you’re facing good pitching like that you may get one good pitch per at-bat, you just can’t miss ‘em.”
Sabathia did not allow a baserunner until Brendan Ryan singled with one out in the seventh inning — a batter after a 30 minute rain delay — in beating Seattle for the seventh consecutive start. He struck out a career-high 14 of the 25 batters he faced, seven in a row at one point.
“He was absolutely filthy,” Ryan said.
When asked when he thought Sabathia had a shot at his first no-hitter, Yankees manager Joe Girardi said, “Fifth inning. Wow! His stuff is that good.”
The Mariners are four shy of matching the Baltimore Orioles’ American League-record 21-game losing streak to start the 1988 season. The 1961 Phillies dropped 23 straight for the modern major league mark.
Seattle will send AL Cy Young winner Felix Hernandez to the mound Wednesday.
“It’s unfortunate that we’re not having the ball roll our way but we’re still coming in expecting to win,” Doug Fister said.
Curtis Granderson homered off Fister (3-12) to put New York ahead 1-0 in the fourth and Mark Teixeira connected for his 100th homer with the Yankees in the eighth.
Sabathia (15-5) appeared to tire after a second delay (14 minutes) in the seventh. He walked the first three batters in the eighth before being lifted for Robertson.
Robertson struck out pinch-hitter Adam Kennedy for his 10th straight strikeout with the bases loaded this season before Chone Figgins hit a run-scoring fielder’s choice to third base to make it 3-1. Ichiro Suzuki then struck out to end the inning.
Rivera struck out two more in a perfect ninth for his 26th save, preserving Sabathia’s major league-leading 15th win.
“They get a lead late in the game — the eighth and ninth inning — it’s tough to come back,” Ryan said.
Wedge told his team after a 10-3 loss Monday night to stay away from the ballpark early, moving back the bus until 4 p.m. for a start 3 hours later and canceled batting practice. Wedge also shaved off his mustache after Saturday’s loss hoping a change would help.
“We’re just trying to do everything we can to help them snap this thing,” he said before the game.
What he couldn’t do was keep Sabathia off the mound. The big lefty came in with a 0.82 ERA in his last six against Seattle — and he was even better this time.
“That was by far the best I’ve ever seen him pitch,” said Ryan who extended his hitting streak to 10 games.
After Suzuki led off the game with a liner to center field, the Mariners did not get a ball out of the infield until the single by Ryan, who took the extra time in the afternoon to eat at the Burger Joint, a foodie favorite in a midtown hotel.
With storm clouds sweeping in over Yankee Stadium and lightning cracks eliciting gasps from crowd, Sabathia struck out six in a row in the fourth and the fifth innings — as fans abandoned their seats for the covered areas.
Rain began to fall in the sixth and became heavy as Mike Carp struck out, prompting home plate umpire Bob Davidson to pull the Yankees off the field.
Greg Halman popped out to first to break the strikeout streak.
Sabathia struck out the side in the seventh around Ryan’s single.
Granderson’s homer was a drive to the opposite field that just cleared the wall in left. In the fifth, Nick Swisher, Jorge Posada and Eric Chavez — just activated from the 60-day disabled list — hit consecutive singles for a run and Derek Jeter made it 3-0 with a groundout.
Teixeira homered off Jamey Wright.
Fister gave up seven hits and three runs, striking out five in seven innings. He hasn’t won in a span of 10 starts dating to June 4. The Mariners have scored just 13 runs over that stretch.
“He had a fever about him,” Wedge said. “He kept us right in the ballgame.”