The Seattle Mariners gave Yankees outfielder Carlos Beltran quite a welcome back present Sunday at Yankee Stadium. Beltran, playing in his first game since going on the DL with a left oblique strain, was greeted by Mariners ace and former Cy Young winner Felix Hernandez.
"The timing was right for me to come back from Single-A and face Hernandez," Beltran said, a hint of sarcasm in his voice, after the Yankees' 2-1 win over Seattle.
While daunting on paper, Beltran, who's hitting .262 with seven home runs and 31 RBIs in 67 games, said he tried not to think about facing Hernandez, who entered the afternoon with a 2.84 ERA.
"I know that he's as good as they come," Beltran said. "He's a guy that's going to locate pitches and find a way to pitch around guys to go after the other one. You just have to go out there, be aggressive, and look for a pitch that's on my strike zone. Hopefully, I can hit it hard and get a good result."
After grounding out and walking, the "good result" came in the sixth inning. Beltran lined an RBI single to leftfield, tying the game at 1. It was his only hit of the day, going 1-for-2 with a walk and an RBI.
"I got a good pitch, a curveball on the middle of the plate, and I was able to stay with it and get the base hit to leftfield," he said. "That was good because we tied the ballgame and anything can happen after that."
The hit came after Hernandez struck out Brian McCann with runners on first and third.
"It allowed us to set up our bullpen the way we want to," Girardi said of the game-tying single. "It was a big two-out hit . . . Felix is always tough on us. Then we got a big two-out hit from Carlos and that's what we need from him."
Before the game, Beltran said he felt good after three rehab games in Tampa. The Yankees hope he can pick up where he left off, hitting .300 with nine RBIs in 80 at-bats in June.