Brett Boone was out of the line-up for Seattle on Friday, but Edgar Martinez—that old Yankee killer—wasn't. In the first inning, Edgar rapped a 2-RBI double to right field. It was the 500th double of his great career. The next time up, he lofted a 2-run home run to left field (the 299th of his career...he would narrowly miss hitting number 300 later in the game). While there are many new faces on the Mariners this year, some things never change.
I know Derek Zumsteg has made a good case for Martinez being a Hall of Famer, and without looking at any numbers, my old-fashioned gut-feeling is that Martinez is on the short-list of great hitters I've seen in my lifetime. I believe that he's a Hall of Fame hitter, no doubt about it.
Jon Lieber couldn't get his sinker down and the M's struggling offense tagged him for six runs. Ryan Franklyn, on the other hand, survived several threats from the Yankees' potent offense, the Mariners' bullpen closed the game out. It was a frustrating night for the Yankees, who got men on base, but were unable to sustain a rally. Alex Rodriguez had some good swings in his first two at bats—he singled his second time up—and then stranded two men on base in his following two plate appearences.
For the Yanks, the night can be summed up in Ruben Sierra's first at-bat. With Hideki Matsui on first and no out, Sierra drove a fastball to the wall in dead-center. As Randy Winn and Ichiro closed in on the ball, it looked as if it might have a chance to leave the park. Winn got there first, extending his right arm to make the catch as he reached the wall. But Ichiro cut in front of him, and pinned Winn to the fence, reaching around him, and making the catch...for a moment.
The two froze in time for a beat—shall we dance?—and as Ichiro's momentum stopped, his glove pressed up against the wall, the ball squirted loose and fell to the ground. Meanwhile, Matsui was half-way between first and second. And so was Sierra, who passed Godzilla by about 10-15 feet. As he rounded first, Sierra watched the play in center and lost sight of Matsui. As he hit the brakes to return to first, he pointed his arms like a traffic cop. Matsui had slammed on the brakes too, and advanced to second.
Que the Benny Hill theme music. Matsui advanced to second and Sierra was called out, on what will be one of the most memorable plays of the year. I would have been pissed if it wasn't so funny. Both the play in the outfield and the Keystone Clods base-running. The Yanks would fail to score in the inning. Sierra was robbed of a double in his next at-bat by Ichiro, and though he did collect an RBI single his third time up, it was a vexing night for the big guy.
On first-glance, this Seattle team is a lot harder to hate than they have been in years past. The Mariners have a lot of guys on their team who look alike, and most all of them sport some sort of carefully groomed facial hair. Ibanez and Winn have long, thin faces and look as if they were cousins. Rich Aurillia—Is Brooklyn in the House?—and Scott Spezio have round faces, and they too look as if they could be related (ditto for Fred Flinestone Edgar, and Barney Rubble Boone). Dan Wilson and Edgar are the only remaining faces from the mid-90s, and of course, they've still got one of my favorites in John Olerud there. I don't know, this isn't an impressive-looking team. But they do seem like an amiable bunch. For a Seattle-take on the game, head on over and see what my man Peter White has to say about it all.
I had faith that the Yanks were going to come up with a big rally late, but it never happened. It did in Boston though, as the Sox, down 6-2 in the eighth, topped the Royals at home 7-6. What with all the good karma coming out of Boston these days, I half-expected to hear "We Are Family" when Manny scored the winning run. Ed Cossette is enjoying his team's chemistry. If they keep it up, what will their feel-good theme-song be?