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  • Kirby Arnold / Herald Writer
  • Saturday, May 19, 2001 9:00pm
  • Sports

Yankees play near-flawless game in 2-1, 10-inning victory over M’s

By Kirby Arnold

Herald Writer

SEATTLE — In the land of pitching, defense and technically sound baseball, the Seattle Mariners saw their own reflection Saturday.

The team that stared back at them was the New York Yankees, whose near-flawless execution in the field, at the plate and on the basepaths produced a 2-1 victory over the Mariners in 10 innings at Safeco Field.

How perfect were the Yankees?

Three of their pitchers held the Mariners’ Ichiro Suzuki hitless for only the third time this season, ending his hitting streak at 23 games, one short of Joey Cora team record in 1997. Yankees starter Orlando Hernandez, who allowed just four hits in eight innings, got Suzuki out on two groundouts and a strikeout, then planted a first-pitch fastball in his back in the ninth inning.

"The young man had a 23-game hitting streak. He’s entitled to an 0-fer every once in a while," Mariners manager Lou Piniella said.

The bigger picture was what the Yankees did to pull off their second straight victory and become only the second team to win a series from the Mariners this season.

Derek Jeter, down to the Yankees’ last strike in the ninth inning of a 1-0 game, poked a score-tying RBI single off Mariners closer Kazuhiro Sasaki and Jorge Posada produced the game-winner in the 10th with a ground ball to second base that scored Tino Martinez with the winning run.

"We’re capable of hitting home runs, but we’re not a home run-hitting team," Jeter said. "It’s the little things that allow you to win, especially when you get to the postseason."

Little things like:

  • Alfonso Soriano, a 23-year-old rookie second baseman, almost single-handedly putting himself into scoring position for the tying run in the ninth inning against Sasaki. Soriano dug a split-finger pitch from Sasaki for a one-out single and, after Chuck Knoblauch flied out to deep center, stole both second and third. He scored easily when Jeter looped a single to center.

    Soriano’s steal of third essentially gave Jeter a good pitch to hit, Tino Martinez said.

    "He (Sasaki) didn’t want to throw the ball down in the dirt (and chance a wild pitch)," Martinez said.

    Sasaki then threw a two-strike fastball that Jeter could handle. Game tied.

  • In the 10th, Bernie Williams led off with a double and went to third when Martinez grounded out to second base. Sasaki intentionally walked David Justice to set up a double play situation.

    The Mariners got that grounder from Posada, a high-hopper to Bret Boone at second. Justice was running with the pitch, however, and Boone went for the sure out at first even though it led to the winning run.

    Afterward, the Mariners couldn’t fault themselves.

    "Jeter fought off a good pitch for his base hit, and Soriano got a hit on a nice, low, down-in-the-dirt splitter," pitching coach Bryan Price said.

    Piniella backed Boone’s decision not to attempt an inning-ending double play and risk an even bigger inning by the Yankees.

    "He tried that play last night," Piniella said, referring — somewhat in jest — to Boone’s wild throw on a double play attempt that allowed three runs to score. "The runner was running and the ball was hit two or three steps to his left."

    The Mariners scored in the fourth when Mark McLemore popped a one-out single, stole second and went to third on Posada’s errant throw. Edgar Martinez singled to center, scoring McLemore for a 1-0 Mariners lead.

    With M’s starter Jamie Moyer mastering his breaking pitch and hitting every edge of the strike zone, it looked like one run would be plenty. Jeter’s fourth-inning single wasn’t just the only hit off Moyer, it was the Yankees’ only baserunner against him.

    All it got Moyer was a no-decision. He’d thrown only 88 pitches through seven innings, but Piniella opted for the power left arm of Arthur Rhodes in the eighth, and he responded with a groundout to Tino Martinez and two called third strikes to Justice and Posada.

    Sasaki, who hadn’t pitched in six days, took over in the ninth and allowed as many baserunners as he got outs. As a result, he suffered his second blown save and the Mariners lost for the first time in the 31 games they had led after eight innings.

    The long layoff was no factor, Price said.

    "Not at all," he said. "He’s been up throwing during two of those days. Kaz is 17 of 19 (in save situations). I’ll take that."

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