By Kirby Arnold
SEATTLE – Everyone knew a night like this was coming for the Seattle Mariners.
But that didn’t make it any easier to swallow for the players involved or the 45,794 fans at Safeco Field who laid out good money – some of them $150 to scalpers – for the privilege of sitting through a rout.
The New York Yankees beat the Mariners 14-10 in a game that featured the continuation of Ichiro Suzuki’s hitting streak but reared a side of the sport that humbles the best of teams.
Mariners starting pitcher John Halama couldn’t get an out before he was pulled in the fourth inning, after he had labored to get the nine outs in the previous three. Brett Tomko, who had appeared only twice this month as Mariners starters nearly eliminated the need for long relievers, pitched like he was on someone’s endangered list by allowing seven hits and six runs (only two earned) in three innings.
And the fielding, the second half of that “pitching and defense” combination that has made the Mariners so stout this season, failed them for once. Bret Boone threw away a potential inning-ending double play ball in the fourth inning that allowed three runs to score.
Besides some inflated ERAs and a few deflated egos, the cost was minimal to the Mariners.
It was only their 10th loss of the season, and they maintained their 12-game lead in the American League West Division. Anaheim and Oakland are now tied for second.
Suzuki pushed his hitting streak to 23 games, one short of the team record set by Joey Cora in 1997. Suzuki singled in the second inning, singled in the fifth and doubled in the seventh, going 3-for-6 to raise his batting average to .375. He also stole two bases, drove in two runs and scored three times, giving him the American League lead with 39 runs this season.
So much for the bright side. The loss snapped the Mariners’ eight-game winning streak, and it was the fourth time this season they’d allowed more than 10 runs in a game. The 14 runs were the most Mariners had allowed since last Aug. 14, when Detroit scored 15.
At least nobody got hurt, including Mariners first baseman John Olerud, who was hit on the helmet with a curveball from Yankees starter Ted Lilly in the second inning.
More painful to the Mariners was the fourth inning, when the Yankees scored six times to break a 5-5 tie.
Halama gave up singles to Jorge Posada and Scott Brosius and, after having watched his starter allow eight hits and a walk up to that point, manager Lou Piniella decided he’d seen enough.
Enough from Halama, that is, because the carnage really got ugly after Tomko arrived. He walked Robert Perez but came back to strike out Alfonso Soriano and, with the bases loaded, induced a potential double-play grounder from Derek Jeter.
Boone gloved it, wheeled and threw a strike … to the ball girl down the left-field line. All three runners scored for an 8-5 Yankee lead. Tomko got Paul O’Neill to fly out, but Bernie Williams singled on a dribbler up the middle and Tino Martinez crushed a pitch over the right-field fence for a three-run homer and an 11-5 score.
All that, and the Mariners still came within three runs of the Yankees twice.
They scored three in the fifth when Suzuki drove home a run with a single and Stan Javier sent two home with a double, making the score 11-8.
The Yankees scored twice more in the sixth for a 13-8 lead, and the Mariners got those back in the seventh, again behind Suzuki and Javier. Suzuki’s double to right-center drove in Dan Wilson and Javier’s single to left scored Suzuki.
That made it 13-10, soon to become 14-10 when the Yankees added a ninth-inning run off Ryan Franklin.