SEATTLE — It was the Seattle Mariners’ turn Tuesday night to pay tribute to New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter for a marvelous 20-year career that began a few hundred yards away where the old Kingdome once stood.
Permitting him to play a key role in a New York victory wasn’t in the program. But here was Jeter, scoring two runs, in a 3-2 victory over the Mariners at Safeco Field.
It was Jeter who knocked out Mariners starter Hisashi Iwakuma with a one-out double in the eighth. And it was Jeter who scored when Jacoby Ellsbury lashed an 0-2 fastball from Charlie Furbush for an RBI single.
Nope, not what the Mariners had in mind after returning home from a 6-1 trip. It was, in fact, a night littered with missteps and, ultimately, frustration.
Furbush yielded the game-winner on an 0-2 pitch, for example.
OK, let’s reset.
Yankees rookie lefty Vidal Nuno gave up one run in the first inning but nothing more before exiting, with a 2-1 lead, with two outs and none on in the sixth inning. He gave up four hits, struck out two and walked one.
When Dellin Betanaces replaced Nuno, the Mariners inserted Endy Chavez for Cole Gillespie, whose RBI single provided the only run against Nuno. Chavez grounded out.
But Betanaces threw the Mariners a lifeline in the seventh inning by plunking Mike Zunino with one out and throwing a wild pitch.
Michael Saunders struck out, but Dustin Ackley lined a single just off the glove of a leaping Brian Roberts at second. Zunino got a good jump and scored ahead of the throw from right fielder Ichiro Suzuki.
Think about that: How often did a catcher, did anyone, score from second on a sharp single to short right against the Suzuki that Mariners fans remember?
Brad Miller reached on an infield single to short, but Betances held the tie by striking out Willie Bloomquist.
Manager Lloyd McClendon chose to stick with Iwakuma, who had thrown 102 pitches, and … probably shouldn’t have.
Brett Gardner just missed a leadoff homer to right when the ball hooked foul and then flied out to deep center. Jeter followed with a double on a ball that hopped the center-field wall.
In came Furbish, who jumped ahead 0-2 on Ellsbury before … you know. Betanaces (4-0) vultured the victory after blowing a save when Adam Warren and David Robertson protected the one-run lead over the final two innings.
Robertson worked around a two-out walk in the ninth for his 15th save.
For the Mariners, missteps started early.
The Yankees cuffed Iwakuma (4-3) for two runs in the first inning after Jeter, to the cheers of many in the crowd of 28,405, grounded a one-out single back through the middle.
Jeter stopped at second on Mark Teixeira’s two-out single into center.
Carlos Beltran sliced a double into the left-field corner that scored Jeter and, probably, should have scored Teixeira, who stopped at third. Brian McCann followed with a grounder up the middle.
Miller made a fine stop in ranging from short … but, with time to gather himself, unleashed a simply atrocious throw that pulled Bloomquist off first base. The result was an RBI single and a 2-0 lead.
Those two runs ended the Mariners’ scoreless streak at 19 innings.
The Mariners got one run back in their first after Robinson Cano sent a two-out drive to left, challenged Gardner and wound up with a double. Gillespie drove an RBI single to center.
The inning ended when Gillespie was thrown out in attempting to steal second.
Kyle Seager opened the second inning with a drive to deep right that afforded Suzuki, on this occasion, an opportunity for a web-gem curtain call for the 10 Gold Gloves he won as a Mariner.
Suzuki made a terrific leaping catch for the out.
Zunino followed with a drive that literally plugged the right-center gap by lodging under the outfield pad. A double. Zunino went to third on a wild pitch, but Saunders struck out.
That allowed Nuno to escape when Ellsbury ran down Ackley’s drive to deep center for the third out.
The Mariners missed another chance in the fourth after Gillespie drew a one-out walk and went to third on Seager’s single. Gillespie held third on Zunino’s fly to left.
JETER’S DEBUT AT KINGDOME
Former Mariners right-hander Rafael Carmona has been out of Major League Baseball for 15 years.
It’s remote, but the possibility exists of Carmona sitting at home, perhaps in his native Puerto Rico, telling a story while watching Tuesday night’s Seattle Mariners game against the New York Yankees.
It could start with how Carmona pinned Derek Jeter into an 0-2 count May 29, 1995, before forcing him to fly out to right field. The next at-bat, Jeter grounded out to shortstop.
Carmona started the future Hall of Fame shortstop and baseball icon on an 0-for-5 big league debut.
“Oh-for-5,” Jeter instantly said Tuesday when asked what he remembers about his 1995 debut which came in the Kingdome.
At 39 years old, the Yankees captain is playing his final and 20th year in the big leagues. He’s spent the entire time under microscopic scrutiny, tending to outsized demands and expectations with grace. The 3,370 hits coming into this series and 13 All-Star appearances helped, too.
“For me, for the last 20 years, Derek Jeter is everything that’s been right with the game of baseball,” Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon said. “He’s a class act. It’s been a pleasure competing against him.”
A day after his opening failure against Carmona and Co., Jeter came up with two hits. Again batting ninth, he struck out against Tim Belcher before hitting a ground ball single to left and a bouncer into center.
Jeter wouldn’t play, but watched the epic 1995 American League Division Series between the clubs. He had a front-row seat for The Slide by Ken Griffey Jr. in the bottom of the 11th inning following Edgar Martinez’s double that sent the Mariners into the American League Championship Series.
“It was an exciting series,” Jeter said. “They were fun games to watch with the exception of that last inning. The fans were energetic. That team — I don’t know if you want to say saved baseball in Seattle — but, I’m pretty sure it had a lot to do with this new stadium being built.
“I just remember how loud it was in (the Kingdome).”
WALKER BACK IN TACOMA, PAXTON FEELING BETTER
Mariners right-hander Taijuan Walker was activated then optioned back to Tacoma on Tuesday. Walker must stay in Tacoma a minimum of 10 days, unless he is replacing an injured player, before he can be recalled to the Mariners.
McClendon said Walker will stay in Tacoma until he can consistently pitch well and deeper into games.
The Mariners continue an eight-game homestand at 7:10 p.m. against the Yankees at Safeco Field. Right-hander Chris Young (5-3,3.42 ERA) will face Yankees right-hander Masahiro Tanaka (9-1, 2.02). blog.thenewstribune.com/mariners