The much-needed push the Seattle Mariners say they require to erase the sour taste of a disappointing first half is on hold for at least one more day.
The Mariners ran into the Alex Rodriguez resurrection tour when they returned Friday from the All-Star break with a 4-3 loss to the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium.
Rodriguez broke a 3-3 tie in the seventh inning with a no-doubt drive to right-center field against reliever Joe Beimel, who had just replaced rookie starter Mike Montgomery.
“It was a sinker that didn’t sink,” Beimel said. “Usually, I throw that pitch and it drops to the bottom of the zone. He just put a good swing on it, went with it and went the other way.”
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A-Rod’s homer was his 19th of the year after missing all of last season while serving a suspension. It also countered a pair of homers by Kyle Seager against New York starter Masahiro Tanaka.
“I had the matchup I wanted,” manager Lloyd McClendon said. “This guy (Rodriguez) is hitting less than .200, and the guy on deck (Mark Teixeria) is less than .111 against left-handers’ breaking stuff.
“We had the guys in there we wanted. We just didn’t execute the pitch.”
Rodriguez jumped an 86 mph fastball from Beimel (0-1) for his 673rd career homer, which ranks fourth in history behind Barry Bonds (762), Hank Aaron (755) and Babe Ruth (714).
“It’s a bad combination,” Beimel said, “when you leave a ball thigh-high to a guy who has 650-plus home runs.”
Rodriguez hit his first 189 career homers from 1994-2000 as a Mariner — and he has now hit 34 against them in 125 games over the other 14 years of his career.
Tanaka (6-3) gave up three runs, on Seager’s two homers, in seven innings before Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller closed out the victory. Miller got his 19th save.
“Those two guys (Betances and Miller) aren’t ideal to score off of,” Seager said. “Those are two of the best guys you’re going to see all year.”
Montgomery bounced back from a career-worst outing against the Angels by delivering his sixth quality start in nine outings. He held the Yankees to three runs in six innings but settled for a no-decision.
New York took a 1-0 lead on Chris Young’s one-out homer in the second inning; he drove a 3-2 fastball from Montgomery over the left-field wall.
“I had to come at him,” Montgomery said. “I didn’t want to walk him.”
The Mariners answered on Seager’s first homer, a one-out drive to right in the third inning, but Young helped the Yankees regain the lead in the fourth inning by again jumping a full-count pitch.
This time, it was a change-up. Young missed a homer by a few feet and settled for a leadoff double. Chase Headley followed with a grounder up the middle for an RBI single.
Two wild pitches moved Headley to third before Jacoby Ellsbury drew a two-out walk. Montgomery stranded runners at the corners by striking out Brett Gardner.
The Yankees’ lead only lasted until Seager, in his next at-bat, crushed a first-pitch sinker from Tanaka for a two-run homer with two outs in the fifth.
“He’s a guy who’s been really tough on me,” said Seager, who had one hit in six previous at-bats against Tanaka. “You’ve got to look for a mistake, basically. You don’t get too many.”
It was the sixth multihomer game of Seager’s career; and his second of the season. All six have been two-homer games.
The Mariners led 3-2.
That lead didn’t last long, either.
Montgomery worked himself into a quick jam in the bottom of the inning when Rodriguez led off with a single, and Teixeira worked back from a 1-2 hole for a walk.
“I think I was trying to be too fine with two strikes,” Montgomery said, “instead of just trusting it.”
Brian McCann tied the game by lining an RBI single to right. It stayed 3-3 until A-Rod happened. And now, the Mariners are 41-49.
“Anytime you lose a game,” McClendon said, “you’re disappointed. But listen, we came in here looking to win two out of three, and we still have that opportunity.”