The Yanks made it nine straight in Seattle last night thanks to another strong performance by Chien-Ming Wang and a seventh-inning grand slam by Bernie Williams in his first start of the road trip.
Wang coughed up a pair of runs to the Mariners in the first on an Ichiro Suzuki single and stolen base, an Adrian Beltre single and a Raul Ibanez double. He then retired eighteen straight batters before getting knocked out of the game in the seventh by a Bret Boone double (misplayed just a half inning after his grand slam by Bernie, who started in center for the first time since the big shakeup) and a more legitimate double by Jeremy Reed that drove Boone home. TanGorMo kept the M's scoreless the rest of the way. And yes, Wang did post a season-high four strikeouts, while not walking a batter for the first time in his four major league starts.
As for the Yanks, they got runners on in each of the first five innings against Aaron Sele, but only got one of them home, a Robinson Cano lead-off double in the third that was cashed in on a pair of groundouts by Hideki Matsui and Alex Rodriguez. Batting second for the first time (Womack sat), Cano went 2 for 5 and is now 13 for 22 with six doubles in his last five starts.
Sele struck out the side in the sixth, but the last strike was his 115th pitch, so, leading 2-1, Mike Hargrove went to his pen in the seventh. Shigetoshi Hasegawa loaded the bases with one out. Lefty George Sherrill (who replaced Joel Pineiro on the roster) got Tino (who didn't homer, but drew an intentional walk earlier in the game with a man on second and two outs) to ground into a fielder's choice, forcing Sheffield out at home and keeping the bases loaded with one out.
That brought up Bernie Williams, who had a walk, a groundout and a flyout on the night. Hargrove went to his top righty set-up man, J.J. Putz. Putz fired a fastball to Bernie and Bernie smacked it to dead center. Centerfielder Jeremy Reed went back, jumped and reached over the wall, the ball hit his mitt and the simultaneous impact of the ball and the wall knocked Reed's glove off his hand. Grand slam. 5-2 Yankees.
The M's pulled a run closer against Wang, as mentioned, but the Yanks came right back against Jeff Nelson on singles by Cano, Sheffield and E-Rod to put the final score at 6-3.
The Yankees are now one game over .500 and just a half game behind Toronto for third place in the AL East. Also, the A's snapped their eight-game losing streak against the Red Sox, allowing the Yankees to pull within 2.5 games of the World Champs. The Yankees' current nine-game winning streak is their longest since they won nine in late June and early July of 2001. Lastly, when the Yankees were struggling in April and the first week of May, Joe Torre repeatedly said that he was just waiting for the team to pull off nine out of ten and get going. Well, guess what?