We got the pitching duel we expected last night. Chien-Ming Wang held the Mariners to one run on three hits and a pair of walks over six innings while striking out five. Wang left after 90 pitches due to a cramp at the base of the thumb of his pitching hand, but Kyle Farnsworth, Joba Chamberlain, and Mariano Rivera finished the job by allowing just one more Mariner to reach base (via an Ichiro Suzuki single off Chamberlain) over three scoreless innings. For Seattle, Erik Bedard retired the last 14 men he faced.
However, Before Bedard locked things down, his defense committed four errors, three of which contributed directly to two of the three runs the Yankees scored against Bedard. In the first, Derek Jeter reached on a grounder that scooted under shortstop Yuniesky Betancourt's glove for an error. He was plated by singles by Bobby Abreu and Hideki Matsui. In the second, Morgan Ensberg led off with a hard shot that ate up Adrian Beltre at third base, also ruled an error. Ensberg was subsequently nailed at second base when Jose Monlia struck out on a hit-and-run, but second baseman Jose Lopez had the ball squirt out of his glove as he made the tag for the Mariners' third error. Alberto Gonzalez then singled Ensberg to third and Melky Cabrera drove both runners in with a double.
The fourth Seattle error came in the third when catcher Jamie Burke dropped a Jason Giambi popup in the swirling winds. Giambi subsequently stuck his shoulder in front of one of Bedard's 10-to-4 curveballs, but was stranded when Ensberg and Molina flew out to end the inning.
And that was it until the sixth, when Ichiro reached out and served a sinker low and away into center field, stole second and third, and scored on a groundout for the only Seattle run of the night.
Among the three Yankee relievers, Kyle Farnsworth and Mariano Rivera were particularly impressive. Farnsworth, for the first time in recent memory, was simply blowing the opposing hitters away with heat, striking out two and throwing 10 of 14 pitches for strikes.
With Bedard out of the game, the Yanks padded their lead by scoring a pair of runs against relievers Ryan Rowland-Smith and Sean Green in the eighth to set the final at 5-1.
The cherry on top of the evening was Bobby Murcer's return to the YES booth. Unlike last year, when the only obvious sign of his illness was his lack of hair, Murcer does appear a bit diminished by all he's been through, but he was in good spirits and good form in the booth and was greeted warmly by everyone, of course.